Calera students return for 2023-2024 school year

Published 2:46 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

CALERA – Heavy rain failed to dampen anyone’s spirits, or the excitement that was present, in the halls of Calera Elementary School as students were welcomed back to start the new year on Thursday, Aug. 10.

With all schools in Shelby County returning for a new school year this week, the day was especially poignant for many of the parents present at CES, some of which were seeing their children enter their first year in education.

“My youngest is (starting) kindergarten,” said Kelley Fry, a mother who had just dropped off her son. “(We’re) excited, nervous, he’s my youngest so I’m a little sad. But, (we’re) excited mostly.”

Excitement proved to be the word of the day at Calera Elementary School, with bright and shining faces all showing up despite the dark clouds and pouring rain that kicked off the morning’s arrival. With the first day being so important to the children, parents were invited inside the halls to help walk them to their classrooms and attend the teacher’s introductions.

“We have a second grader and we’re excited, she’s excited too,” parent Kim Sayers said.

Principal Shannon Montgomery, who oversaw the day’s introduction with an endless smile, slowed down and took time to welcome back every returning student and to greet each new one.

“We’re excited, (and) any time we have the beginning of a school year there’s always the excitement of seeing the new faces and then seeing the students return back,” Montgomery said. “The teachers have put in a lot of time getting ready for the school year and caring for their kids. We are very excited about the upcoming school year and just seeing our little eagles soar.”

Teachers in the hall were noticeably thrilled to see the children arrive happy and ready to learn. While not uncommon to see tears in the eyes of a few on the first day of school, whether it be from the students or the parents, the sight was largely absent from Calera Elementary School. Instead, students appeared truly ready to get the ball rolling.

“It’s the joy of things like that, seeing the kids come in and then just smiling and waving and remembering faces,” Montgomery said. “There are so many kids, so I try to remember their faces, (and) their names, as much as I can, (there’s) so many of them. The hugs and all of that is what takes away from all the stress that we (all educators) feel.”

The rain, a full downpour at first, eventually calmed to be nothing more than a few stray drops as the school buses and parents finished unloading the children. The entire operation proceeded smoothly thanks to the hard work and careful attention of teachers and staff at CES who guided students, mopped up wet floors, welcomed parents and filled in where needed.

“I think everything is going wonderful,” said Ali Bulger, a counselor beginning her first year at CES. “Everyone’s happy, (and) excited to be here. Despite the rain, it’s been very smooth. This is my first year, I love it, I’m here for it. I think we have great things planned. It’s already been a great first day, so I’m really looking forward to it (the school year).”

With the new year now underway, CES now looks forward from its first day and toward the remaining great days of the school year to come.

“I’m just excited about the year,” Montgomery said. “I just want people to know, ‘Hey we are open, we are very transparent, we are a group of people that love kids and we do what’s best for kids.’ That’s our priority. That’s the message that I always want to send to my faculty and staff. We are kids oriented here, and that’s the way it should be.”