BILLINGS – Thursday marked another first day of school for School District 2 in Billings.
From the playground of McKinley Elementary School, teary-eyed moms and dads were seen saying goodbye to their first-time students all while SD2 launches a new campaign for attendance.
“We just want to get the word out that school has started. We want kids in the seats. We are excited to have them,” said McKinley Principal Nicole Trayhan.
Trayhan said the first day is full of excitement. She’s been with McKinley for several years and has a favorite part about the day.
“Sometimes we have to pull kindergartners away from parents, because both of them are crying, but I think what I love about the first day is the excitement in the kids. That excitement for learning to see who their teacher is, to see who their friends are,” she said.
For parents, there were plenty of emotions. Parent Samantha Burba had some mixed emotions as she sent her first daughter to kindergarten for the first time.
“Happy, scared, excited…. remembering when she was a tiny little baby,” said Burba.
Burba even had some words of encouragement for her daughter Abby.
“I would say to be brave Abb, and to make a lot of friends,” she said. “I told myself that I wasn’t going to be one of those moms that lost it… so we will see how it goes”
However, it was a teary 5-year-old in Kathy Berkley’s case. She has been through the first day of school routine before with several kids ahead of her son Quinn Nielson.
“He’s nervous, and I said, ‘we just go, you already met your teacher,’ which is nice… so then they just make friends.”
As Quinn said goodbye to his mom, he was seen trying hard to not let the tears roll.
“Just let them go you know and just be strong, be brave. That is all there is to it. They make friends pretty easy so it’s not too hard,” said Berkley.
The first day of school could be the start of a milestone year for McKinley Elementary. The district accepted 60 new kindergartners, something Trayhan said they had to adjust for the Thursday before school even started.
“So one of our kindergarten teachers has been frantically working to get her classroom prepared,” said Trayhan.
SD2 is also experiencing big changes, with 22 new teachers and a new superintendent, Greg Upham.
Reporting by Andrea Lutz for MTN News