The rising sun Monday announced the first day of school for students in the Fort Dodge Community School District.
For the district's kindergarteners, it was a milestone event. Literally, their first day of school.
Jennifer Yoder, Duncombe Elementary kindergarten teacher, formerly a third-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary, said teaching these kids on the first day of their 12-year journey is a pleasure.
Jordan Greeno, a student in Julie Williams’s kindergarten class at Duncombe Elementary, reaches the front of the lunch line to receive her first school meal on literally her first day of school Monday. She is assisted by teacher Janice Peterson and served by Edana O’Connor.
"It's just fun," she said. "It's just such a joy to see how excited they are about their first real school experience."
Yoder said her students enjoyed their first day and conducted themselves well.
"It makes you really proud. I was very impressed," she said. "We haven't had any tears today. They're having a good time. It's a whole new experience for them."
For Yoder and her students, the day began with a more practical instruction.
"It means going over a lot of rules, teaching them how to line up, and that kind of stuff," she said. "But it's so fun because they're so eager and excited and proud."
Yoder is aware of the importance of her role of being the first teacher of these young students.
"I always remembered my first kindergarten teacher. Everybody remembers their kindergarten teacher," she said.
For the students at Cooper Elementary, their first day began with a flag-raising ceremony. The ceremony, and everything after, went well, according to Principal Bruce Hartley.
"The first day of school here has gone very smooth," he said. "We have gotten our 75 kindergarteners off to a good start, and I think all the other kids, even though quite a few of them are new to the building, have kind of fallen right into place and into the schedule. Things look good."
Hartley enjoyed his first day as well. Formerly the principal of Feelhaver Elementary, he started Monday as principal of Cooper.
"My first day as principal here has been wonderful," he said. "The teachers have been very welcoming and accepting. It's good to have all the teachers and the kids back."
At Cooper Elementary, as with all the district's elementary schools, the staff worked hard to provide an excellent first time experience for its new students. For a few kindergarteners, though, the building was a familiar sight.
"Some of the kindergarteners we have here were in the transitional kindergarten last year or preschool, so they're familiar with the building and the way things run," Hartley said. "Those that are new to the building, we had some nervous ones and some that were a little apprehensive, but we comforted and welcomed them. I didn't see any tears shed this morning, which is always a good deal."
He added, "It seemed like, with the open house and having the kids in a couple of times prior to the first day, that they were all ready to go."
Fort Dodge Senior High on its first day wasn't without its own sense of ceremony.
"We're off to a really good start," FDSH Principal Dave Keane said. "We had an assembly this morning and celebrated being back. That was awesome. We got the band playing and the kids riled up. It's been going really pretty smooth."
It was an auspicious first day for the school's freshman students, a beginning, and a glorious first day for its seniors, having reached their final school year.
"The seniors were excited this morning, because they're now seniors. It's the rite-of-passage year," Keane said. "There's a lot of freshman asking questions, trying to find there way around. Most of them pretty much know where they're going."
School ended Monday with one day down and another 177 to go before summer break starts again on May 31, 2013.