MYRTLE BEACH — More than 600 students made their way into River Oaks Elementary on Wednesday morning as pioneers of sorts, which didn’t go unnoticed by Erik Herbert as he dropped off his son E’Manuel for his first day of fifth grade.
“He had a good last year and he’ll be the first to graduate from the school,” Herbert said. “I’m excited [and] happy for him.”
How did E’Manuel feel?
“Really good. I’m excited,” the 10-year-old said. “I’m pumped up.”
Many students and parents echoed E’Manuel’s sentiments about starting the year at the brand new school.
Across the region, more than 49,000 students had their first day back at Horry and Georgetown county schools Wednesday, with officials in both districts reporting no major problems.
“The busses ran smoothly and some people reported that they felt like they never left school,” said Teal Britton, spokeswoman for Horry County schools.
Felicia Renne said she was excited as she dropped off her daughter Ava, a second-grader. Ava previously attended Ocean Bay Elementary. “It’s beautiful inside and a lot of the great teachers at Ocean Bay came.”
Renne said she also was impressed with River Oaks’ principal, June Moorhead. Moorhead said the school opened to help ease overcrowding at Ocean Bay.
“Dr. Moorhead is wonderful. She’s very organized and seems like she runs a tight ship,” Renne said. “But as long as [Ava] is comfortable and continues to excel, I’ll be happy.”
Moorhead, who served as the principal at Myrtle Beach Primary for the past 12 years, said she planned for teachers and students to hit the ground running.
“Our expectation is that we being instruction immediately and that the first day of school looks like every other day of the school year,” she said.
North Myrtle Beach High students started their school year with a video showcasing school spirit, performing a “lip dub” to Flo-Rida’s “"Good Feeling” and Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” that was filmed in May.
At a student’s suggestion, North Myrtle Beach teachers Lesley Etherson and Mindi Penn collaborated with students, faculty and administration to create the six-and-a-half minute video., which can be seen on YouTube at youtube.com/watch?v=nM3DM0iSW1c.
“The inspiration was building community and sense of school spirit,” Etherson said. “We wanted to get people excited about coming back to school.”
She said since making the video public this week, she’s received a lot of feedback from alumni.
“They say things like, ‘why didn’t we do this when I was in school?’ or ‘this makes school look fun,’ ” Etherson said.
At River Oaks, Moorhead said the faculty and staff were prepared to tackle any possible first-day issues.
“I thought traffic would be a nightmare,” she said Wednesday morning. “We were so well prepared that so far we haven’t had any issues other than getting people going the right direction on the roads.”
Moorhead said that most parents want to walk their children into the school on the first day, filling the parent lot, and that can cause some parking and traffic issues. As it got closer to 7:30 a.m., when school begins, Moorhead had to allow parents to park and drop off students in the bus circle
She said she was a little surprised about the absence of tears from students who might be scared or nervous about their first day of school. Kindergartner Jameel Hartley Jr., 5, showed no fear as he walked up to school for the first time, saying he felt really good about the day and looked forward to playing with his friends.
“No tears. He loved it,” said Jameel’s mother LaMecha Hartley after dropping him off. “He sat down and was like, ‘bye!’ ”
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722.