Moms and dads, grandparents, and aunts and uncles said goodbye to their kids Wednesday morning as Lufkin ISD’s 15-plus campuses kicked off a new year.

Three-year-old Emoree White was ready to play with playdough once again. Her mom, Tynika A., said they were blessed and anxious to begin school this year.

Four-year-old Hazel Gonzales and her 3-year-old brother Christian held hands as they both headed into Hackney Primary School with their mom, Elia, close behind.

“I really want to color,” Hazel said, remembering her favorite things about school.

Elia said Hazel has been excited to go back to school, and Christian was happy to start school for the first time and get to have fun and play.

“I feel bad for him because he’s really close to me, but I’m ready for him to start something new,” Elia said.

Terika Cooper and Jasavious Criswell dropped off 3-year-old Javon Cooper and 4-year-old Jayceon Pierre for their first day at Hackney.

“They’re ready,” Criswell said. “We made it seem like it’s going to be fun because it will be. We want them to be excited about learning.”

“I’m excited to have the house to myself, but I know I’m going to cry when I leave,” Terika Cooper said. “Javon told me not to cry in front of him.”

At Herty Primary, Sasha Lopez and 9-year-old Jaydn, 6-year-old Caydn, 4-year-old Eleyon and 7-year-old Angel prepared to say goodbye.

“They’re very excited to go to school today to see their friends again and meet their teachers,” Sasha said. “They’re very into learning and always excited for new activities.”

Many students were greeted by a red carpet and an entourage of teachers, administrators, volunteers and more. Jill Riggs, principal at Herty Primary School, said the first day of school is like coming home.

“We say welcome home, welcome back,” Riggs said. “We’re with them almost as much as their parents are, so we do miss them over the summer. We get to see how they’ve grown, how they’ve changed.”

First Baptist Church brought out volunteers to greet the students. Senior pastor Mark Newton said his church adopts Herty Primary every year.

“We do everything from the first day of school to the last day of school,” Newton said. “We do a lot of things for the teachers every year, and we do field day with the kids, whatever the teachers and the school need us to do, we come out and help them.

The church believes in public education and being the hands and feet of Christ for schools, Newton said.

Grace Juarez’s email address is