Parents, pupils tackle jitters

Jennifer Graham said her 6-year-old daughter, Ashley, changed clothes three times Monday morning to find the perfect back-to-school outfit, which included her favorite color - pink.


The first-grader couldn't sleep for a week, worried about making friends and the workload of her classes, Mrs. Graham said.

Ryan Wells, 6, told his mother he was nervous about first grade also.

Pam Wells said she had to give him a little extra nurturing to get ready for school.

Ryan clung to his Cars lunchbox as his mother walked him to class.

Both Ryan and Ashley attend Sue Reynolds Elementary School. They were among the thousands of pupils in Richmond and Columbia counties attending the first day of the new school year for these school systems.

Some parents were as excited and nervous as their children.

Stephanie and Curtis White hung around for a bit taking pictures of their 5-year-old son, Myles.

"It's a big step," Mrs. White said of kindergarten. "He seems very excited."

She hovered by her son's Sue Reynolds classroom door for a moment to set her mind at ease.

Monday was also the first day in the classroom for some teachers.

"I'm just going with the flow right now," Garrett Elementary School first-year teacher Jennifer Bass said.

School officials reported few problems Monday, although staff members at Garrett Elementary had to deal with balmy conditions when the air conditioner in the school's office went out.

Sandra Carraway, the deputy superintendent of the Columbia County school system, said two buses had to be replaced before they started their morning routes. Otherwise, she said, there were no major glitches at the county's 28 schools.

"It's been a great first day. We're, of course, watching numbers at various schools," she said.

Dr. Carraway said 21,491 pupils reported for school Monday.

Although this figure was 880 below the school system's projection, she said, "The numbers will increase as the week carries on."

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said Monday was "relatively incident-free," but the start of school brought the usual traffic delays.

"The first day of school means one thing for motorists with or without children - traffic. And lots of it," he said.

Travis Nagy, 18, a Greenbrier High School senior, said the traffic on William Few was similar to last year even though a new road into the school complex, General Wood Parkway, opened this summer.

"It's not good. It's backed up. It's congested," he said.

Caitlin Girard, 7, hopped off the school bus and headed directly to her second-grade classroom at the new Cedar Ridge Elementary School in Grovetown.

"I'm sad because summer is over, but I'm excited," she said.

Staff writer Valerie Rowell contributed to this story.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or Reach Betsy Gilliland at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or