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Back to books for city of Buford students

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Kindergarten students at Buford Elementary School wait in the hallway after using the restroom before taking a tour of the school on Friday, the district's first day of class.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Kindergarten students at Buford Elementary School wait in the hallway after using the restroom before taking a tour of the school on Friday, the district's first day of class.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Led by kindergarten teacher Kathy King, students put their hands together in a huddle to kick off the first day of class at Buford Elementary School on Friday.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman On the first day of school at Buford Elementary, Sydney Harvell works on coloring a picture in her kindergarten class.

BUFORD — Kindergarten students Bowen Shirley and Luke Hopper are partial to a good coloring assignment. The respective 4- and 5-year-olds find merit in keeping crayon strokes within the lines, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for artistic license.

“I drew a green tornado,” said Shirley, tiny fingers clutching a stick of colored wax. Hopper, however, opted for a purple tornado. He pointed toward the colored scribblings with a broad grin.

From several tables over, teacher Kathy King reminded the young pupils to avoid getting Crayola stains on their clothes, many of which were brand new to mark the occasion.

For the first day of school at Buford Elementary, Shirley sported a crisp, white collared polo shirt, while Hopper chose to advertise his school spirit, wearing a black Buford Wolves T-Shirt.

The boys weren’t alone. All over the district, students, teachers and administrators dressed to impress, putting on their newest and favorite outfits to greet peers during the city of Buford’s first day of classes.

Superintendent Geye Hamby said that with first-day enrollment at 3,550, the district has seen an increase of nearly 300 students from the previous year. “It was a good day,” Hamby said. “We are grateful and appreciative of the support from the community and the city.”

Denise Simpson, assistant principal at the elementary school, said the first day is all about “learning the school rules, getting into the routine and getting used to the schedule.”

Fellow Buford administrator Rachel Adams, middle school principal, said the first day of classes are successful when “we are positive with the kids and with the teachers. That attitude sets the stage for the whole year. I think it’s a great time to develop the relationships that will last for the entire school year, and that’s what we’re really focusing on.”

Middle school students Zack Waters and Nathan Haines chimed in that it’s also a good day to start honing relationships with teachers. “Pay attention and be respectful,” Waters said.

Haines said students should “from the very beginning learn the teacher’s rules and follow them closely. You’ll get more out of it if you’re listening and learning.”

Buford High School Principal Banks Bitterman likes that maxim.

The administrator walked the halls of his facility Friday morning. Cupping a hand to his ear, he smiled. “Hear that? Silence. That’s a good sound. That means they’re in the classrooms, learning. You could hear a pin drop.”

In the kindergarten classrooms just down the street, there was some learning going on too.

King asked her students to have a seat on a blue rug that featured numbers, colors and all the letters of the alphabet. The children sat in a circle, listening to their teacher.

“We are a family now,” she said as the kindergartners listened, eyeing their new educational environment. “We’re going to work together. We’re going to play together, and we’re going to learn together.”