As students poured off the buses at West Hill Elementary School, administrators and teachers welcomed them back with smiles and high-fives for the first day of school .
Kindergarteners with new backpacks shyly approached their new teachers while older students went confidently in the building, chattering away with friends.
Parents milled around snapping pictures and doling out final hugs to their students, while teachers got each student in line. Other tracked down missing lunch boxes and tied shoes, preparing each student for the new year.
Once each bus had arrived and nearly 800 students were inside, Principal Scott Nozik greeted everyone from his office over the loud speaker.
"I just want to welcome everyone back," he said. "It was great to see so many familiar faces on the first day of school."
After the Pledge of Allegiance, Nozik and Assistant Principal Louise Adamow concurred that getting students off the bus had been a success that morning.
"That went so well," Nozik said. "It's the most important thing we do all year and I hope it goes just as well in the afternoon."
While the first day brought excitement to students and staff, students were left anticipating whether or not they had successfully completed their summer reading challenge.
As an incentive to students to get their summer reading done, Nozik sets a challenge each year. Last year, when the students completed the challenge, Nozik set up his office on the roof and spent the day there. In the past he'd kissed a pig and a llama when students completed the challenge.
This year's challenge is a little more hands on for students. If they meet their total, Nozik will disappear and students will need to find him through a scavenger hunt. The challenge was based on the popular 1977 picture book "Miss Nelson Is Missing." The school should know by mid-September whether students completed their goal.
"Hopefully they will rise to the challenge and we can have a little fun," Nozik said.