ORANGE PARK, Fla. – More than 40,000 students returned to class Wednesday in Clay County — including the students and staff at Ridgeview Elementary School in Orange Park.
Ridgeview Elementary turned up the energy on the first day of school. Before the school bell rang, there was music, as well as high-fives. Students, parents and teachers had a great time kicking off the new academic year.
Kaitlyn Mahoney is a high school senior who was thrilled to be part of the welcome squad for the younger students.
“It’s such a joy to be with our community and welcome these kids back. I know what it was like to be this, and I miss it,” Mahoney said. “And it’s so much fun and these kids have fun, and we have fun every time we come.”
News4JAX had a chance to catch up with parents and students who are grateful it’s a new school year and a new time to shine.
“It’s exciting! He’s doing good, too,” said Ridgeview Elementary parent Heather Jackson. “I started a full-time job and I was worried I wouldn’t get it, but I was able to make it!”
While most students were returning, Camiyah Cain was making her grand entrance. She said she’s excited about school.
“I’m new here — I don’t know anybody,” she told News4JAX. “I’m going into sixth grade!”
And while there was fun on the outside, learning was happening, too.
Clay County District Schools Superintendent Dr. David Broskie was at Ridgeview Elementary, along with members of the Clay County School Board, to take a tour inside the school. They got a firsthand look at how things are going so far. Broskie said things are off to a good start, but safety is key.
“We ask for patience on the roads,” he said. “As everybody adjusts, I said the other day, there are 218,000 people in Clay County, 40,000 are heading back to school today.”
For Mahoney, Wednesday was a good sign of what’s ahead.
“I cannot wait for what the season holds. We have our first football game next week, and we just have so many things going on right now,” Mahoney said. “I’m so excited.”
With a new school year comes some hiccups, as well. Clay County District Schools Transportation Director Scott Wiand said that they’re still short some bus drivers and that they made some adjustments to the routes Wednesday. Wiand said that they’re still looking to hire more and there is a recruiting line to call at 904-336-0075.