School days, school days ...

Fourth graders, from left, Sabrena Cohen, Deleyna Banks and Marisa Oliver chat Wednesday morning in the multi-purpose room at Naval Avenue Elementary School before the first bell. - Photo by Celest Cornish
Fourth graders, from left, Sabrena Cohen, Deleyna Banks and Marisa Oliver chat Wednesday morning in the multi-purpose room at Naval Avenue Elementary School before the first bell.
— image credit: Photo by Celest Cornish

It was the best of times for parents and it was the worst of times for children as the hallways of Naval Avenue Elementary School swelled with activity on the first day of school for the Bremerton School District Wednesday morning.

Principal Sue Goerger overlooked the scene with her ever-present smile. It was go-time. Goerger, donned in a tan, flowered dress and tan high heels, began a pace that would have put Carl Lewis to shame.

She greeted children at the main office as they poured in the door. While she smiled, the children, most wearing backpacks almost as big as they, mourned the loss of summer’s freedom while looking forward to the possibilities of a new school year.

“They all come in here with their new clothes and new backpacks. You can just feel the excitement,” said Julie Wasserburger, Naval Avenue’s special education and Title 1 teacher.

Wasserburger was one of several staff members stationed in front of the school’s main office guiding children to their classrooms.

While most of the student population was in the multi-purpose room eating breakfast before school, Goerger floated from table to table greeting them.

Goerger ensures the students’ first stop every morning is the breakfast table. After breakfast, the children stay inside, as opposed to going out to the playground, before the first bell rings.

“I was concerned there was not enough supervision,” Goerger explained. The system seems to work well; on Wednesday morning, there were no disciplinary incidents inside the multipurpose room.

But there were a lot of first-day jitters. A group of fourth-graders sitting near the cafeteria wall discussed their summer vacation and the positives and negatives to beginning a new school year.

“I get to see all my friends, but then ... no summer,” said fourth-grader Marisa Oliver.

Elsewhere, second-grader Stephanie Williams clung to her mother’s arm while kindergartner Noah Sheaffer fiddled with a multi-colored stuffed lizard.

Noah was not nervous at all.

“I’m excited,” Noah said.

When the students began migrating to their classrooms, Goerger headed to the kindergarten orientation to encourage parents to visit the school and take an active role in their child’s education.

Goerger’s next stop was back to the multi-purpose room, which was so clean that a “Got Milk?” poster of internationally renowned skateboarder Tony Hawk reflected off the waxed floor.

On the way to the mulipurpose room, she stopped by her office to ditch her high heels and put on a pair of more appropriate shoes — Nikes — and to swig bottled water like a marathon writer. As it turned out, she was only wearing the tan heels to break them in for her daughter’s wedding this weekend.

“I just thought, ‘This is silly. I can’t do this,’” she said. So off the shoes went.

The multi-purpose room was the setting for an assembly with the fourth- and fifth-graders to remind them of what was appropriate behavior at school and on the playground.

Goerger began the assembly with an announcement: every month, there would be a school assembly, and the fifth-graders will get to sit in the folding chairs at every assembly.

“That’s a privilege you earn for being the oldest students in school,” she told the fifth-graders.

And with that, a new school year began.

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