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Thousands of students in Santa Maria embark on new school year

Posted at 3:17 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 21:20:26-04

Thursday marked the end of summer break and a return to the classroom for thousands of kids in Santa Maria.

The buzzing atmosphere of the first day brought forth many emotions for parents and their children as they waited in anticipation of the morning bell.

New superintendent for the Santa Maria-Bonita School District Dr. Darren McDuffie was also out welcoming families to kick off the new year.

"I couldn't sleep last night, I must admit," said Dr. McDuffie. "I feel great, and it is always that nervous energy that comes with the first day of school."
"I am just so excited to see all the faces today. Last year it was kind of a whirlwind for me because it was my first time in the classroom," said Allison Gonzales, who teaches kindergarten at Robert Bruce Elementary School.

Early Thursday morning, Dr. McDuffie joined school staff at both El Camino Junior High and Robert Bruce Elementary schools to greet families who were either returning for another year or embarking on a new journey through education.

"I hope he is going to be feeling good because it is his first day, it is his first time," said Santa Maria grandmother Linda Mendoza. "I think I am going to get emotional seeing him grow up, but it is time. It is time for all these little babies to grow up and work this world."

Students we spoke with also weighed in on what they are looking forward to most in the new school year.

"I am too excited. Also, I am part of Aces. It is this whole thing they do after school. We just do dodgeball, we do capture-the-flag, and we do red light-green light." said 4th grader Emmanuel Madera.

Other students, as well as their parents, tried their best to fight off the first day jitters.

"Ugh...I am just nervous," said 7th grader Troy Mendoza.

One Santa Maria dad we spoke with said while he was timid dropping his son off on the first day, he was "conscious" he would be in good hands.

The first day of school is intended to be a smooth transition into the new year. Families were saying day one set the tone for the semester to come.

"She couldn't wait to come back to school," said mother Elizabeth Rich. "This summer she was so excited and just enjoyed it. She couldn't wait to come back."

Dr. McDuffie says as new superintendent he plans to be actively present in getting to know the many communities in Santa Maria and listening to the needs of families as the new school year gets underway. He anticipates there to be as many as 17,000 students enrolled in the district.

The Santa Maria Bonita-District has also published a list of safe walking routes to help kids get to school safely. You can find a link to that resource, as well as other district information by clicking here.