A long line of cars stretched the entire length of the school, as children, escorted by their parents, waited for the school doors to open to let them into the cafeteria as the sun rose in the east.
Meanwhile, buses unloaded students at the side entrance as teachers helped them into school.
This was the scene at many elementary schools in Lee County and elsewhere as the new school year kicked off Monday.
North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts was no exception , with more than 1,100 students and teachers who spend their days at the K-8 school.
Dr. Douglas Santini, principal at NFMAA, said the morning was going smoothly.
“Everything is going great. When you do this for as many years as you’ve done it, it’s pretty well organized,” Santini said. “It’s a well run engine.”
The school helped ease children into the school year with an open house on Saturday that was attended by more than 1,000 students. The school served 2,000 hot dogs and 3,000 bottles of water.
“The kids were enthusiastic. A few had frowns on, but the majority were happy and couldn’t wait,” Santini said. “A lot of people do a lot of things. It’s very positive. A lot of good parents and a lot of good kids.”
The school underwent construction over the summer, and there’s still some roofing and cafeteria work going on.
Teachers, nonetheless, are enthusiastic about starting the year.
“Everyone is so excited. It’s a lot of work to get started, but once we’re here we’re ready to go,” said Linda Verdream, who teaches middle school students with special needs and was unloading children from the bus. “The first few weeks of summer were relaxing, but after a few weeks we were antsy to come back.”
The parents and children were as well, and getting the kids ready for the first day can always be a trial.
Megan Hull, who has three girls who attend NFMAA, said she got her children up early to make sure they were ready.
“They’re very excited. They made sure their clothes were out ahead of time, they had a healthy breakfast and they’re ready to go,” Hull said, who got her kids set for their routine a week in advance “in theory.”
Ashley Beougher waited in line to bring her two children into school. She said she was excited because it would allow her to get things done at home.
“The kids aren’t too excited. They were busy over the summer. Lots of vacation,” Beougher said. “The kids were OK getting up. They’re good about laying their things out the night before.”
Things are sure to get going quickly. Next week is the middle school science fair followed by a myriad of activities and performances that will dot the school year.
Santini said it’s all about building relationships with the students. Otherwise, it won’t be a good year. He said he wasn’t worried about that.
“I think it’s going to be a good year and it’s a wonderful day at the academy,” Santini said.