"Welcome back!" Principal Melanie Lipinski said, greeting familiar faces as they stepped down giant bus steps and into a new school year on Thursday in Oceanport.
Crossing guard Patty Scerbo was all smiles as she greeted her walkers.
"It's a great way to start the day," she said of the job she has held for at least 12 years. "Their smiling faces, they're adorable."
At Wolf Hill School, a gaggle of parents gathered at the pre-school/kindergarten entrance to take pictures, wave goodbye and maybe stifle a tear or two as their babies took a major step to big boy and big girl status.
Several teachers and aides, including Mrs. Cadigan and Mrs. Birnbaum, were on hand to guide new students who gratefully grabbed their extended hands. Nurse Molzon in her white coat snapped pictures of each alternately happy and pensive face.
After all the children safely funneled into school Lipinski breathed out a sigh of relief and said, "In four years, that's the best first day we've had."
When the last teacher and student crossed the threshold, the principal told the parents who were nervously peering in the door, "Thank you everybody. They'll all be okay."