First day of school a time for new beginnings at Relay Elementary

Susan Menefee and Erin Brice stood near the front door of Relay Elementary School, blinking back tears as they waited for the first day of school to begin.

They weren't scared first-graders — or even the mothers of scared first-graders.

Brice's twins, Sam and Mikaela, are in third grade this year.

"Every year I cry," she said.

Menefee's son, Sam, is in the second grade

"It's just leaving your kids," she said. "I was excited yesterday, but today….

"It's scary and sad, but exciting," she said.

"They grow up too fast," Brice added.

In addition to the tears, the first day of school at Relay on Aug. 26, was filled with energy and anticipation.

This was a big day for the Athas household. For the first and only year, all three children are attending school in the same building.  

James is in fifth grade. Maddie is a second-grader. Jack's in kindergarten.

"I'm so excited," said Mindy Athas as she waited with her three children. "One PTA, one school, one bus."

By 7:30 a.m., the office staff was already in place. Lisa Dingle, the principal, was in her office, emailing parents.

Cpl. Andrea Bylen, in a crisp blue uniform, was on duty — as were police officers at every Baltimore County public school.

"We've got everybody out here for this," she said. Police were assigned to duty for the opening and dismissal of school all week. "It's good," she said. "Very good."

Celeste Hairston had arrived for her first day as a third-grade teacher. She began at Relay in January as a kindergarten teacher. Her pirate-themed decorations were up in her classroom and she was ready for her class.

"I think it's the age where they're not babies but they're not the big kids," Hairston said. "They still want to have fun while they're learning."

On the sidewalk near the school, two former Relay students waited for the bus to take them to Arbutus Middle School.

Josh Blasy, 11, worried about his locker. It's a normal worry when you're starting sixth grade.

But there was also some positive anticipation. "I'm looking forward to seeing my friends that I couldn't see over the summer," he said.