School bells ring out again for Oak Harbor students
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
September 10, 2012 · Updated 9:32 AM
Laughter and shouts of joy at seeing friends flooded the Hillcrest Elementary School playground Thursday morning as more than 600 students gathered for the first day of school.
Children ran for the slides and swings, or greeted friends with special handshakes or hugs, the worries about a new year of school vanishing upon seeing familiar faces. A few anxious little ones clung to parents’ hands as the students lined up with their teachers.
“We got to walk here today because the weather is so nice,” said Jes Walker-Wyse as she sat with her son, 6-year-old Jon Jon Wyse, before school started.
While Jon Jon said he wasn’t too excited to start first grade, the mention of his new backpack and the lunch packed within put a smile on his face. He had a tasty meal of a Lunchable, Go-Gurt and peppers to look forward to, plus a fruit punch drink that nearly had Jon Jon bouncing with delight. With the fun feature of a lunchbox that buckles onto his backpack, Jon Jon said he was prepared for another year of school.
Meanwhile, Jon Jon’s brother Joban, 2, buzzed around the two in noisy circles.
“We can’t wait for him to start school,” Jes laughed.
The excitement was nearly palpable as the bell rang at 9 a.m. and group by group, the students marched into the building and to their classrooms.
Hillcrest Elementary School got a few updates over the summer. New Principal Paula Seaman greeted students by name and directed them to their classes. The smile never left her face as she met parents and students, integrating herself into her new position. This is her ninth year working for the school district.
“We got good sun and I’m really excited,” Seaman said.
The floor at Hillcrest is new, too, replacing worn carpet with years of food and dirt ground into it. The light blue rubber tile flooring was installed in June. Popular in hospitals, it’s meant to be easy to clean, long-lasting and Seaman said it brightened up the halls and classrooms.
Students and staff “oohed” when they saw the courtyard, with brightly colored flowers in bloom and ripe apples hanging heavy on trees. Last school year, members of the Oak Harbor Garden Club taught students how to plant and care for herbs, flowers and more in the courtyard, but it became overgrown over the summer. Navy employees cleaned it recently, transforming it into a thriving garden at the center of the school.
“It looks gorgeous,” Seaman said of the improved school as she led straggling children to their classrooms and prepared for another year of education.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.