Steamboat Springs goes back to school |

Steamboat Springs goes back to school

1st day of classes marked by excitement, higher enrollment numbers

Karen Draper reads a book to her first grade class Wednesday at Strawberry Park Elementary School. Students in Steamboat Springs returned to school Wednesday from their summer vacations.

— Schools in Steamboat Springs have all their energy back.

"I'm not sure you can find a place with more enthusiasm and more excitement," Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal Celia Dunham said after her students had settled into their classrooms during the district's first day of school Wednesday. "Every year is a new and different experience for us."

The voices of more than 500 children and parents echoed loudly in the atrium outside of her office Wednesday morning as teachers guided students into the classrooms where they spent much of the day getting to know one another, their new teachers and in some cases, their classroom's pet turtle.

"It's kind of chaotic in a way," parent Jennifer Tamburrino said as she led her son Colton to a first-grade classroom. "But it's really exciting. Everybody is starting to get back into their normal routines."

Tamburrino said she started preparing for the occasion more than a week ago by gathering the necessary supplies and getting back into an early morning routine. And after Colton was settled in his first class Wednesday, his mom added that it was "a little sad" not to have him around as often as he was during the summer months.

Strawberry Park's energy was matched at each of Steamboat's schools. Across the parking lot, more than 180 sixth-grade students relished their first day at Steamboat Springs Middle School.

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"I'm enjoying it very much, and I'm glad all the teachers have been very nice to me," Max Sauerbrey said during his lunch break. "Walking in here for the first time was great. I was a little nervous about who my teachers would be, but I think I got a good selection."

And as the lunch bell rang, Max and hundreds of other students spilled into the school's atrium to exchange high-fives, open their lockers for the first time and chat with friends before their next class.

The middle school expected as many as 525 students to show up for class Wednesday, a number Principal Tim Bishop said was higher than he's seen during any of his 12 years at the school.

"We've had a great kickoff day, and I'm very excited for our students," Bishop said.

He said he also saw fewer sixth-grade parents escorting their kids to class, which he attributed to the success of the school's orientations.

"The students are very confident this year," he said.

That confidence carried over to Steamboat Springs High School, where a group of freshmen girls huddled together at a lunch table and proclaimed that their first day had so far been a success.

"It's a big change from middle school, and I'm looking forward to it," Eliza Leeson said.

Steamboat Springs Superintendent Brad Meeks spent the day touring each of the district's schools and welcoming back students. He said the district's enrollment was expected to be 20 to 30 students higher than last year.

"Everything from the busing to the start of classes has been running smoothly so far," he said just after lunchtime. "What I saw at the schools this morning is that everyone is excited for a great start to the year."

 To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

Open house schedule

Strawberry Park: 6 to 7 p.m. Sept. 6

Soda Creek Elementary School: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8

Steamboat Springs Middle School (Sixth grade): 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 7

Steamboat Springs Middle School (Seventh and eighth grade): 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 7

Steamboat Springs High School: 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 18

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