At Waddell Elementary School's temporary home Wednesday, back-to-school moments included many hugs and proud smiles as parents dropped off their bright-eyed, eager students — and a few sad scenes with kids who weren't quite ready.
School staffers wearing blue and white Waddell T-shirts waited in the new school bus courtyard between Bennet Academy and the Cheney Building as buses arrived. A police officer at Main and School streets stopped any confused parents from driving into the portion of School Street that is open now only to schoolbuses.
About 350 Waddell students will attend classes in the newly renovated Cheney Building, part of an $84 million school modernization plan that also includes expanded common areas in Bennet Academy, "like-new" renovations and additions to Waddell and Verplanck elementary schools and the eventual closings of Robertson and Washington elementary schools.
Waddell students are to return to their school for the 2018-19 school year, and all fifth-graders are to attend the Cheney/Bennet school beginning that year.
Wednesday was the first day of classes for students in kindergarten through seventh grade and for ninth-graders at Manchester High School. Eighth-graders and students in grades 10-12 are to return Thursday. The idea behind the split start is to allow new students in the middle and high schools a period of acclimation apart from older students.
Some Waddell students were having a bit of a rough time getting acclimated.
"You'll be fine," a staff member told a worried-looking third-grader whose mother stood by. The mother of another boy spoke softly to her son as he wiped tears from his eyes. A Waddell staffer led him away as mom turned for one last backward glance.
The start on Wednesday was mostly positive, with a few minor glitches, School Superintendent Matt Geary said. Some opening ceremonies that were to be held outdoors had to move inside because of the wet weather.