Area students, teachers back for another school year

Classes began Monday in Steamboat Springs

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— The buzz of young voices, interrupted only by the hurried footsteps of a passing student, filled the halls and pods of Strawberry Park Elementary School Monday, the first day of classes for the Steamboat Springs School District.

Teachers at both Strawberry Park and Soda Creek Elementary School spent much of the first day easing their students back into the school environment after nearly three months of summer vacation.

Strawberry Park's second-grade classes began the year with a watermelon hunt, a fun way to get them ready for learning, teacher Lesa Scoppa said.

And because the second grade's first unit deals with watermelons, the day's activities were a first lesson.

The students learned the school's layout as they searched for the giant fruit, guessed the weight of the watermelon once they found it and planned on having a seed-spitting contest, time allowing, Scoppa said.

"While we hunted, we learned everything about the school," Scoppa said. "It gets them in the mood to start getting excited for school -- and to wake them up."

First-grade teacher Celia Dunham said her new students were full of energy throughout the day, which was somewhat surprising considering their age.

"For first-graders the first day is hard because most of them aren't used to being in school all day long," Dunham said. "It's a long day for them."

Dunham's class did a variety of activities, including playing name games, organizing their new school supplies and making individual books that help them learn more about each other and what they want to accomplish during the year.

"All day you're just kind of explaining things, and you try to mix in fun activities in between," Dunham said. "You want them to go home at the end of the day thinking this is a comfortable place where their needs will be met.

"These first days are so important just to get to know everybody."

Students aren't the only ones with a hectic first day of school; teachers have adjustments to make as well, said Dunham, who is entering her 32nd year as a teacher.

"First days are exhausting," she said. "(Teachers) have to get in the routine, too."

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