First day of school

Bluff Elementary School third-grade teacher Ashley Winter teaches a lesson Friday during the Clinton School District’s first day of classes.

CLINTON — Class is back in session.

School districts throughout the Gateway area celebrated their first days of school Friday as buildings were once again full of students, staff, and administrators ready to tackle the 2019-2020 school year.

Clinton School District Superintendent Gary DeLacy said Friday that he had spent time in all six of the district’s buildings at some point throughout the day, reporting a relatively smooth and problem-free first day.

“You can see that there is lots of excitement throughout our district for this year,” DeLacy said. “Right now, it’s all about getting back in the routine of things and making that important first impression.”

DeLacy said the first day of school can be crucial when it comes to a student’s success throughout the year, with the superintendent and his staff doing their best “to make a positive experience” for all district students.

One of those working alongside DeLacy is Bluff Elementary School Principal Kristi Cooley, who is going into her 20th year as an educator. Heading toward completing her second decade in the field, Cooley said Friday that the first day of school is something that she looks forward to every year.

“That feeling never goes away,” Cooley said of the excitement surrounding the first day. “The best part of teaching is that you always get to start fresh. There’s always excitement with new students, a clean building, and maybe some new staff. It’s something that everybody feels.”

Cooley said the excitement is always met with some nerves, “because you want everything to go right.” That starts with things such as ensuring that class lists are correct, all the way down to other minute details as students fill the halls for the first days of the year.

DeLacy is entering his 35th year in education, and his third year as superintendent of Clinton schools. DeLacy was hired in March 2017 after the departure of outgoing leader Deb Olson, and his first day on the job was July 1, 2017.

Friday, after taking time to visit every school in the district, DeLacy echoed Cooley’s sentiments about that “first-day-of-school feeling.” Even after 3 1/2 decades as an educator, “There’s just something about it.”

More than anything, DeLacy said, the first day of school is a reset button of sorts.

“As an educator, you never lose that excitement,” DeLacy said. “It’s a chance to start anew, and to be able to try and offer our students the best possible education that we can. This is really an introduction where we can lay out the vision of the district and put into action all the things that we have going on in this district.”