LIHUE — Second-grader Jordan Mendez entered Elsie Wilcox Elementary School Wednesday morning fully prepared to take on a new year.
“I’m ready,” Mendez said as he headed into the first day of school with his mother following him with his bag of school supplies.
Hundreds of kids said goodbye to summer vacation and hello to the classroom at Wilcox, which looked a bit different than last year thanks to a Hardy Street improvement project that is wrapping up just in time for the opening bell.
But what’s the first day without a little nervousness to go with it?
“My granddaughter Dazjanae Hunter couldn’t sleep last night,” said the grandmother of the first-grade student at Wilcox, who transferred from the King Kaumualii Elementary School. “Last year, she came here from Illinois and started at King Kaumualii. But everything went smooth so I think she’ll sleep really well tonight.”
Kauai Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki said opening day for the Kauai public schools went pretty smoothly. Official enrollment figures will not be available until next week because not all of the Kauai students started Wednesday.
During the school supplies distribution to 1,200 students last week at the Kukui Grove Center, Arakaki noted there are more than 9,000 students expected for the fall semester — an increase from last year.
County Engineer Larry Dill and other engineers from Public Works were monitoring the traffic impact of the new Hardy Street roundabout which opened this week and altered a portion of the road where parents are no longer allowed to park and drop off their kids.
A group of Kauai Police Department officers also watched the activity from the parking lot of the Lihue Public Library.
“So far, everything seems to be moving smoothly,” Dill said. “One of the new changes in the traffic pattern is the elimination of the parking stalls from the Umi Street intersection to the entrance of the school. Hopefully, this helps the traffic flow.”
Arakaki also said he was monitoring the drop-off zones at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall parking area and was pleased with how smooth everything went.
“The parents were able to park and walk with their students to classes and help them with the supplies,” Arakaki said. “It did get crowded at times, but for the most part, it went well.”
Isaiah Sales, a fourth-grade student, was waiting for his dad in the parking lot after the first day concluded.
“Aaaargh,” the youngster said. “My dad is still in a meeting. I’m going to have to wait until 2 p.m.”
Sales said otherwise, the first day of school was pretty good.
“We had to say stuff about other people,” he said. “I could’ve told them I played with the Lihue Lakers because I’m the only fourth-grader on the team. But I just told them I played basketball.”
Dylan Balino, waiting to get picked up by his parents, said school was good because you learn things and have a chance to play with friends.
“It’s good,” said James Balino, Dylan’s father who came to pick up the student. “It gives us parents a break.”