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Turlock students head back to school
First day pic
Students make their way to class as the bell rings on the first day of school at Julien Elementary School. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

The hustle and bustle of a new school year began again Thursday with students all over the city making their way to new classes with backpacks, notebooks and pencils in tow.

Julien Elementary School welcomed over 800 students back to school this year, according to Principal Angela Freeman. Freeman, who previously served as assistant principal at Crowell Elementary School, made it a goal to interact with as many students and their family members as possible on her first day as principal.

“I just want to meet families and kids,” said Freeman. “That’s the best part. I’ve met the staff and now I want to meet them.”

Freeman didn’t have a hard time meeting new families, as many were on campus dropping their children off for their first day. While parents of older children were accustomed to saying their goodbyes come mid-August, it was in front of the kindergarten classrooms where many tears and smiles were shared as youngsters parted with their parents for the first time.

“I’m nervous, but I’m excited for him because he’s ready and he’s happy,” said Katie Becker, who dropped her only son off at kindergarten. “I think it’s different when it’s your only kid.”

Becker bought her son an oversized T-shirt that reads “Class of 2029,” and plans to take a picture of him wearing it on each first day of school until his senior year of high school.

“That way when he’s older, it will fit him and we’ll have all these pictures of him in it,” said Becker.

Mom Heather Diaz also dropped off her son at kindergarten for the first time on Thursday, and it took her back to her days as an elementary school student.

“I went to Julien too, so it’s exciting,” said Diaz. “He’s kind of following in my footsteps a little bit.”

While the sixth graders at Julien have experienced their fair share of first days so far, it didn’t take the excitement out of the day for students Gavin Strait and Braydon Johnson. Both are going into their last year of elementary school and are hoping to make the most of it.

“I’m most excited for sixth grade camp, and to learn lots of math and history,” said Strait. “I’m looking forward to being a sixth-grader and helping the other students, like fifth-graders and third-graders.”

“I feel sad about leaving after this year, especially since I’ve only gone to this school since fifth grade,” added Johnson.

The Turlock Unified School District anticipated over 13,400 students to attend its 15 campuses this year, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor. Over the next couple of weeks, students and their parents will become familiar with their new campuses thanks to Back to School Night, the first of which takes place on Aug. 15 at Medeiros Elementary School.