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Area schools off to a running start

Influx of staff or students did nothing to trip up the first day at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus schools.

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Nisswa Elementary School Principal Molly Raske poses with students Alianna and Saila during the Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, first day of school.
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Lakes area school districts were once again alive with the voices of students and their adult teachers Tuesday, Sept. 6, with the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.

Mom with son
Bailey Sherman gives son Oliver Sherman a kiss on the cheek before he goes into the Pine River-Backus Elementary School for the Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 first day of school.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus School District principals exhibited enthusiasm over the coming school year, considered to be a return to normal after several years of course correction following the pandemic.

Football players greet students
As is tradition, on the first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, Pine River-Backus athletes greeted elementary students as they got off the bus to get the school year off to a positive start.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

"Our little Warriors are back in school and we could not be more excited to kick off the 2022-2023 school year," Nisswa Principal Molly Raske said in an email. "It is so fun to visit each classroom as the students are learning the new routines, sharing their summer memories and pondering over their goals and dreams for this school year. Nisswa Elementary School is such a magical place to be and today was nothing short of that! The hallways and classrooms are full and we could not be happier! It's going to be the best year!"

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Benjamin and Brandon Hines help Ezekiel Werner chain up his bike at the Pine River-Backus School on the first day, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

"Overall, it was a successful first day in the Pequot Lakes School District," Superintendent Kurt Stumpf said. "We welcomed many new students and families to the district. There are some minor issues - such as food service and transportation schedules - to work out, as there always is at the start of the school year. It's great to have students and staff back for the school year."

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Third-grader Isabella Gulso and her fellow Eagle View Elementary School students were greeted with smiles, hugs and high fives from Principal Melissa Hesch and the Eagle View staff on the first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.
Dan Determan / Echo Journal

"The high school was a busy place on the morning of Day One," Pequot Lakes High School Principal Aaron Nelson said. "Dealing with the large number of new students had its challenges in helping students find their classrooms and learn the routines of a new school. Kids are great because they adapt quickly, and by afternoon it was clear they were getting settled. There were lots of smiling faces and positive energy today as students returned to school. Great to have the hallways busy with traffic again and looking forward to a great year ahead."

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The first day of school was met with excitement from some students, including first-grader Bradley Jansen, at Eagle View Elementary School in Breezy Point, on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.
Dan Determan / Echo Journal

"Absolutely phenomenal to get the student energy back on campus,” Pequot Lakes Middle School Principal Mike O’Neil said. “It was truly great seeing our para and teacher teams helping to make certain that the first day experience for our middle schoolers was a success. Kids knew where to go and how to get their lockers open – two major hurdles that often generate a lot of anxiety for students."

Pine River-Backus had an influx of new teachers, but High School Principal Chris Halverson said they started the year with a unified front and plenty of Tiger Pride.

"Even with our new staff it felt like there's a good sense of staff unity," Halverson said. "There are people meeting and greeting in the hallway and really sticking together and being present for the kids. I felt great about that. That's where you want to start."

Halverson had three meetings throughout the first day to track progress.

"There was a lot of Tiger Pride in those meetings," Halverson said. "We're doing great stuff already before we even got rolling and the kids are proud of that."

Principal greeting students
Decked out in Tiger colors, Pine River-Backus Elementary School Principal Rick Aulie met with students Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, as they returned to school for the first day of the 2022-2023 school year.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

The bus drop off was exceptionally smooth this year, with Transportation Director Charity Crannell and PR-B Elementary School Principal Rick Aulie speaking almost in disbelief when all the students were in the school almost ahead of schedule.

"We had a very smooth arrival and drop off this morning," Aulie said. "It was great to see our high school students out there welcoming the elementary kids as they got off the bus. This has kind of become a nice little neat tradition that we've started. So that was very fun to see staff and students are ready to rock out the 2022-2023 school year. Things went really well. Probably one of the better starts I've seen in many years. Everybody's working hard."

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