The lonely, quiet halls of school during the summer reverted to busy thoroughfares Monday, as thousands of Davis School District students returned, their voices filling those hallways with sounds of anticipation, excitement and nerves.
"School is so much more fun when the kids are here," said Whitesides Principal Diane Cahoon, who was surprised to see several kids arrive at the Layton elementary school at 7:30 a.m., more than an hour before classroom doors opened.
"We encouraged them to go back home, but they were so excited, they wanted to wait. The first day of school is my favorite day of the year, with all of the excitement and nervousness," Cahoon said. "I also love seeing all of the parents come and get their kids settled, and the feeling that everyone wants to be happy and safe."
Not everyone was excited for the first day. Eighth-grader Jarrin Smith at Fairfield Junior High, in Kaysville, was still pining for summer break.
"School is boring, especially the first week talking about all of the disclosures and rules. I'd much prefer hanging out at home," Jarrin said.
Other students, however, couldn't wait for the first bell to ring.
Seventh-grader Hailey Pantle had been counting down the days until she got to start junior high for the first time. She admitted getting lost a few times trying to find her classes at Fairfield, but it didn't dim her spirits.
"It's been a little scary, since it is all so new, but I was so excited this morning on the bus that I couldn't sit still," Hailey said.
Cahoon refers to the first few days as "the honeymoon period while they learn all of the routines and expectations, but it only lasts for about two to three days."
Knowing that theory applies to his school as well, Fairfield Principal Bryon Nielsen said he tries to pack as much excitement into those first three days as possible to make sure it continues throughout the year.
"We want to make sure they enjoy it here and see that it's not a prison," Nielsen said. "Making sure they enjoy the first few days of school is the key to enjoying the rest of the year."
However, eighth-grader Nicole Freeman said her energy level for school stays strong for the first several months.
"I was so excited to come back and get new teachers and be out of seventh grade, but my energy (for school) wanes about December, and then I start getting excited about
summer, so I will enjoy this excitement for school while it lasts," Nicole said.
The teachers spent the last several weeks of summer preparing for the first day of school. Cahoon said many of her teachers worked far more hours than they were paid for.
"They want to be the best they can be at their craft, and they want to do it because their kids are worth it," Cahoon said.
For first-grade teacher Devre Carter, the first day of school is reminiscent of her elementary school days. She said:
"I love the first day of school and getting to know new kids, and it takes me back to my school days when I was so nervous and excited."