Graham Elementary School students, teachers and parents kicked off the annual back-to-school season Thursday morning with the traditional rites of brand-new book bags, first-day pictures, and tearful goodbyes from moms and dads.
The district in Champaign County was the first local public district to return to school, with others following suit next week. By the end of the month, more than 28,000 local students will be back in school.
Parents said they started preparing their students for the transition by instituting early bed times and getting back into the morning routine, attending open houses, and back-to-school shopping for supplies and clothes.
Despite having a variety of new outfits to choose from, “she picked out her new shirt from the horse show,” Rachel Nichols said of her 9-year-old daughter, Randi, and her choice of attire.
The start of school is hard for her 2-year-old sister, who Randi kissed goodbye before running into the building to start the day, Nichols said.
“She cries every day when we drop her off,” she said.
Randi is entering the fourth grade along with her friend Emmalee Cecil. They attended an open house together Wednesday night to meet teachers and see their new classroom. Getting the girls excited and ready for the year is easy, their mothers said.
“They’re both bookworms so it doesn’t really take much,” Nichols said.
Emmalee’s mom, Kristen, said she started school night bedtimes and mornings about two weeks before the first day.
“I like to get her back into the routine of things,” she said.