It could have been the opening of the new Lewiston Elementary School that excited preschooler Chelsea Harrison on Wednesday.
Or that she was embarking on a new school career.
But what mattered most?
A new book bag.
"It's the Powerpuff Girls," she said, turning her back to show off its gleaming pink glory.
Chelsea was one of 445 Lewiston Lions to march into the school, the county's first new facility to open since 1996.
"It's been exciting, it's been busy," Principal Mike Doolittle said. "We had parents here at 7:30 a.m."
Lewiston was one of 27 Columbia County schools to open Wednesday, welcoming back 1,914 pupils, about 270 fewer than projected.
"We'll continue to grow over the first few days, so there's no question in my mind we're going to reach our projected number," school Superintendent Tommy Price said.
There were a few snags at the new school. An 11th-hour water test showed debris in the lines, and the drinking water was off limits during the day. The Columbia County Water Department sent in a water truck to supply the kitchen, while the school system called on its emergency water reserves to provide bottled water.
"With new lines, anything can get in, and that's apparently what has happened," Mr. Price said. "Hopefully, the tests will be negative tomorrow morning and we can have our water system fully operational."
Twenty minutes after the first bell, the last two buses arrived. Transportation Director Shirley Doolittle said it will take awhile before things run smoothly.
One problem was the paving of the back drive where the buses will park. It's expected to be completed by Friday - weather permitting. Until then, buses, day-care vans and cars will fight for asphalt in the two-lane drive in front of the school.
"The traffic was a little heavy, but that will work itself out, and once the paving gets done in the back, it will eliminate a lot of congestion in the front," Dr. Doolittle said. "But it will be a good day, despite the fact we are starting 30 minutes late."
Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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