School year begins in Aiken, Edgefield

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Growing up, Presley Salmon always enjoyed helping her classmates. Now a first-year teacher at Merriwether Elementary School, she is looking forward to doing the same with her pupils.

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First-year teacher Lauren Hiott plays a get-to-know-you game with her pupils on the first day of school at Merriwether Elementary School in North Augusta. This is Hiott's first year teaching; she was a substitute teacher at Merriwether last year.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
First-year teacher Lauren Hiott plays a get-to-know-you game with her pupils on the first day of school at Merriwether Elementary School in North Augusta. This is Hiott's first year teaching; she was a substitute teacher at Merriwether last year.

“I like helping students and seeing them grow and learn and master what they’re learning,” the fourth-grade teacher said. “It’s an amazing process.”

To start off the first day of school Monday, pupils did a word search puzzle that Salmon created containing their names. As they looked for names, some smiled as they started to recognize who some of their classmates will be this year.

On the other side of the school, fellow first-year teacher Lauren Hiott welcomed her fifth-graders Monday with a warm “Good morning” and “How are you?”

Though a new teacher, she isn’t a stranger to Merriwether’s classrooms. She served as a substitute teacher at the school last year.

“This is such a great school, and I’m glad I get to be a part of it,” said Hiott, who is teaching science and reading/English Language Arts.

Principal Wayne Marchant greeted pupils and parents by name, shaking hands and even offering comforting words to nervous parents and children.

Establishing a sense of community on the first morning of school is important, Marchant said.

“We want our parents to feel welcome at the school, and we want our students to look forward to coming to school every day,” he said. “This is a very tight-knit community, and we all know each other. Our school is a reflection of that.”

At Paul Knox Middle School, Principal John Murphy was expecting an enrollment of about 650 pupils and hoped to getting to know them all, he said.

“This is going to be a great year,” the principal said. “I’m looking forward to seeing them grow academically throughout the school year.”

Colby Bradley was excited about being an eighth-grader.

“We get to do some exciting things as eighth-graders, like the eighth-grade dance,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a fun year.”

Alli Bell, 13, enjoyed catching up with friends she hadn’t seen all summer.

“It’s fun finding out what everyone was up to,” she said.

Colby and Alli are also hoping to participate in extracurricular activities. Colby will be on the golf team, and Alli will play volleyball and basketball.

The school’s teachers were just as excited about the new school term.

“The first day of school never gets old,” said Mary Lown, an eighth-grade teacher. “You always look forward to it.”

Monday was the start of Principal Todd Bornscheuer’s second year at North Augusta High School.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “We’ve had a very good first day.”

North Augusta High math teacher and football coach Louis Mackie compared the first day of school to the start of a new season.

“You’re excited and ready to kick things off on a good note,” he said.

Rick Gill, an Advanced Placement U.S. history teacher, said the best thing about a new school year is that it’s a chance to try new things to help prepare students for college.

“It’s a fresh start,” he said. “As a teacher, you’re always looking for ways to improve, and I’m always open to new ideas.”

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