Like many around him, Patrick Sklenka’s first day back at Vickery Middle School included some trouble with his locker combination.
Although he’s a seventh-grader, Sklenka said he still was a little anxious about returning to school Thursday.
"I’ve done it before, I’m just sort of nervous coming back again," he said. "I’m trying to come back and get used to the rhythm and flow of things."
The rhythm and flow was felt across the school system, including its administration, as the 2011-12 school year got under way.
Superintendent Buster Evans said Thursday was "one of the smoothest first days I have ever experienced in my five years with the district."
"The students and teachers have uplifting, smiling faces and we have had only small reports of crying children," he said.
"Teachers and administrators have done a great job preparing the schools and our bus drivers have done a phenomenal job this morning."
As with every first day, some students were dropped off late, both by parents and buses. But overall the process ran well, officials said.
"We want to thank all the students, parents, staff and motorists who paid special attention to the school buses and children who were out this morning," said Garry Puetz, transportation director.
"We feel we had a very good first morning and could not have done it without your help. We do have some opportunities for improvement and we will be working on those areas the next few days."
Coming back to Vickery Middle wasn’t a problem Thursday for excited eighth-graders Allie Odom, Casey Cowart and Gigi Arias.
"It’s the last year of middle school," Odom said.
Cowart looks forward to the perks of "being at the top of the food chain."
For Arias, the excitement was about "getting to meet new teachers."
But all three girls were familiar with chorus teacher Melissa Grizzle, who they visited on their way to homeroom.
Catching up is Grizzle’s favorite part of coming back to school.
"Seeing all the kids dressed up so nice and seeing how excited they are … I would do year-round school if I could," she said. "I just enjoy what I do and I enjoy the students and getting to know them."
About 185 days remain in the school year. That didn’t bother several students, including Sklenka, who despite visiting London and Paris "got kind of bored over the summer."
"It was easier during the school year to get my work done and keep me busy," he said. "I’m just excited to get back in the flow of things."