Richmond, Columbia county students back

School bells ring today
Corey Perrine/Staff
Tutt Middle Principal Nathan Benedict (left) walks and talks with Maria Lozano (center) and her son Maverick, 4, as Mikayla Brown, 12, passes them in a hallway. Among other changes, Tutt students can now join Future Business Leaders of America.

Today is the day.


More than 55,000 children in Richmond and Columbia counties will start a new school year.

It's an exciting time of year for parents and teachers, but maybe not so exciting for the children, whose long summer days have come to an end.

Parents and students gathered in schools last week for open houses and orientations to get ready for the school year.

One of those gathering places was John M. Tutt Middle School's cafeteria Wednesday, where Principal Nathan Benedict explained the intricacies of the pickup and drop-off lines for car riders and the dismissal procedures for car riders, walkers and bus riders. He also provided an overview of classes and extracurricular activities and stressed the importance of attendance.

"If you don't come to school, I will call you and bother you," he said. "So come to school."

The stage behind him showed signs of work left to do, as it was filled with stacks of boxes.

Elizabeth Samuels' daughter Janiya, 11, is a new sixth-grader at Tutt.

"From what I can tell, my daughter seems to be coming into a safe environment," Samuels said.

She said she is glad to see Tutt add Future Business Leaders of America this year.

"At such an early age ... I was introduced to it in high school," Samuels said.

April Pataka said she was impressed with Tutt's extracurricular offerings. Her 11-year-old son, Dante, will start sixth grade today, and daughter Gabie McCort, 10, begins fifth grade at National Hills Elementary.

Band director Brandi Colon is also looking forward to this school year.

"The music, and getting the kids back into the music," she said. "We've been away from school for more than two months."

This year, Colon's fourth at Tutt, she will be able to offer jazz band as a class. It was previously an after-school activity, but interest has grown.

"I'm very excited about it," she said. "I hope we will have opportunities for the jazz band to perform."

For those students who aren't so thrilled about coming back to school, take heart. Your first holiday is Labor Day, Sept. 5, and the last day of school is May 18 -- only 176 instructional days away.

If you're in Aiken County, you've got one more week of vacation. School starts Aug. 15 there.

Back to school

TODAY: Columbia, Glascock, McCormick, Richmond, Screven counties

AUG. 15: Aiken, Bamberg 1, Barnwell 45, Blackville-Hilda, Denmark-Olar 2, Edgefield, Hampton 1, Hampton 2, Jenkins, Saluda, Williston 29

AUG. 16: Allendale County

AUG. 18: McDuffie County


LIVE UPDATES: Check early and often for updates on what is happening on the first day of school in Richmond and Columbia counties.

PHOTOS: Upload your images from the first day of school at



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