Eileen JoyceUnion Hill second-graders Aly Stretch (left), James Schmidt and Taylor Day break in their new journals by writing a few sentences about the first day of school Wednesday.
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Wednesday marked the first day of classes for many of western Nevada County’s school districts. The Union dispatched a team of reporters and photographers to capture images of the beginning of the 2002-03 school year, including scared kindergarten children, bewildered middle-school teens and confident members of the class of 2003.


Mrs. Bennett1s kindergarten class includes Khaos – Khaos Tramente.

Khaos’ first discovery Wednesday afternoon at Hennessy School’s kindergarten orientation was that his brand-new shoes matched his new classmate’s.

The two placed their feet side by side to make sure.

In the same classroom, Daven Courter and his “bestest” friend, Allen Fellows, darted from one set of toys to the next.

“I’ve known him since I was like 3 or 2,” Allen said of Daven.

Parents sat at small tables doing their “homework,” filling out forms.

A visitor questioned the lads about how red square pieces in the train box are used to build a railroad track.

“This is my first time in kindergarten, so I don’t know,” Allen answered sensibly.

The pair explored the “kitchen,” making hamburgers using plastic ingredients. Allen found a green plastic teapot with a lid.

“Hey, Daven, here’s your coffee,” Allen said, handing his buddy a small plastic yellow cup.

“Thank you,” Daven responded.

Allen takes Daven’s head in his hands and forcibly turns it around to face something.

“You go home tired,” Faye Nightengale, the morning kindergarten teacher, said.

– Grace Karpa

Second Grade

Sierra Payne and best friend Taylor Day said they were a little nervous Wednesday, minutes before the bell rang at 8:35 a.m. at Union Hill School.

But the jitters soon went away.

“Good morning, boys and girls,” said teacher Bernice Kochis in front of her class. “My name is Mrs. Kochis. I’m glad you1re here today!”

After settling in, Sierra, Taylor and their classmates tackled their first project: write a few sentences about their first day of school and color a picture.

“On the first day of school, I was tired,” a student wrote. “Then, I had fun. I got a new lunch box. I felt happy when I saw my friends.”

By 9:30 a.m., it was time for the students to take a tour of the school, and then it was recess.

“I think second grade is going to be faster than first,” said James Schmidt as he put his journal away.

– Kerana Todorov

Sixth Grade

Like airplane luggage, it has wheels and a retractable handle. The backpack is also bright pink, and 11-year-old Lori Nettles pulled it through the busy concourse of Lyman Gilmore School.

She loved the colors and was sure it had enough space for the books and homework she1d heard about. She1d been thinking such thoughts since 5 a.m.

“I was like, – Hmmm. Sixth grade. Very big.” she said.

Middle school is lockers, gym uniforms, elective classes and daily planners.

It’s also a leap toward adulthood, Principal Stephanie Pope told more than 200 sixth-graders in the gym, “Home of the Bombers.”

Expect to make friends and lose some. Your bodies will change, and so will your outlook. Through it all, stay accountable.

“If there is a habit you wanted to get rid of, now is the time to start,” Pope said. “This is the time. It’s a fresh start.”

Lori joined the applause. Fifth grade at Scotten School was long gone.

“It doesn1′ scare me. It’s going to be more fun,” she said, tugging her backpack to cooking class. “Last year it was boring.”

– Doug Mattson

High School

Don’t ask Bradford Lewis about the first day of school.

“Summer was way too short,” the 16-year-old Bear River High School junior said, standing in the school1s quad, under the sizzling sun. “I should be going to the river, swimming and sleeping for days.”

Katie Taggart’s freshman friends couldn’t contain their enthusiasm.

“It’s not as cliquey as I thought,” she said, munching on lunch.

Her friend, Katelyn Wright, 14, added: “I’m happy to be starting high school. I’ve been looking forward to it forever.”

As Principal Maggie Deetz marked her 16th first day at Bear River, seniors Taylor Harvey, 17, and Wes Ivazes, 17, busted out twin guitars for a jam session while senior Tahnee Rankin snapped Polaroids.

“I’m going be a rock star,” Ivazes said. “I’ve just never played for money ’cause high school kids never have any.”

Nearby, members of the class of 2005 basked in their sophomore glory.

“It’s not that we feel bigger than the freshmen, it’s just that we know our way around and they don’t,” 15-year-old J.D. Moore said.

– David Mirhadi

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