The first week of classes for the 2017-18 school year at the Bexley City Schools kicked off with a variety of activities to welcome students, parents and staff.

To prepare for the school year, Kimberly Miller, the new superintendent, greeted staff members at the annual convocation for administrators, faculty and staff Aug. 15, the day before classes started.

"We had the high school band come marching through the cafeteria as the teachers were having their coffee and the cheerleaders came in and we led everybody into the auditorium," said Miller, who officially joined the district Aug. 1. "It got everybody pumped up for the school year."

"It was like a pep rally," said Melissa Lacroix, board president. "You can't have a great first day with the kids if you don't have a great first day with your administration team."

In another annual tradition, Bexley Education Foundation representatives served coffee to parents at Cassingham, Maryland and Montrose elementary schools as they dropped off their children for the first day of school Aug. 16.

"Wednesday was amazing. We had students walking with their parents," Miller said. "It's really a community feeling. I was able to be in every building on the first day of school."

Lacroix, who was stationed at Maryland, said the goal was to smooth the transitions.

"(Parents) holding the hands of the children, they look nervous, they look excited. It was a tell-tale expression on their faces when they came out (after dropping off their children), it was such relief," Lacroix said. "That's such a statement about the comfort level and the welcoming environment."

The 2017-18 school year is the first in which the sixth grade will be located at Bexley Middle School rather than the three elementary schools. To prepare, BMS Principal Jason Caudill, administrators and teachers recruited students to assist.

"We have a group of eighth-graders who came in for a couple of days of training over the summer and helped be mentors for the sixth-graders," Caudill said. "That first day, they went through their mentoring program -- kind of like 'getting to know you' and showing them around the building."

The middle school began preparing for the sixth-graders last year, when Caudill initiated staggered lunch periods in which half the students ate lunch while the other half had recess, and then they traded off in the next period.

The transition to a middle school with three grade levels has been seamless thus far, Caudill said.

"The kids have been great," he said, "the parents have great, and the teachers."

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