New year has different meanings

The backpacks, sparkling clean Converse sneakers and the rush of voices after the sound of the Laguna Beach High School bell indicated one thing this week: Class is in session.

Students shouted "Hi, Dr. C!" at LBHS Principal Joanne Culverhouse as she walked the halls during a 9:35 a.m. break.

Tuesday wasn't just the first day of high school for ninth-graders, but it was also Culverhouse's first day as principal. She made the move from Thurston Middle School in June.

She called her first day "excellent."

"The best part of the day is seeing the kids I've known for so many years," she said.

Ninth-graders Daniela Lucidi, Allie Ricci-Fisher and Kayla Pressley had nothing but positive things to say about their first couple days as high school students.

Although Allie, 13, joked that she was a quite a bit shorter than the seniors, they said they all enjoyed mingling with the older crowd.

"It's like middle school … but bigger," said Kayla, 14.

Daniela, 14, mentioned that so far high school seems "really fun" and mentioned her excitement about being part of the water polo team.

While some students were getting ready for their first years of high school, others were realizing that the four years go by quick.

Seniors Ryan Cavanaugh and D.B. Cooper, both 17, said they want to take advantage of the year ahead, knowing that graduation is around the corner.

Ryan said "it's definitely weird" how fast the time flies.

"It's monumental," D.B. said with a laugh. "I'm almost looking forward to the challenges this year."

One of those challenges will be the college application process. Both students said they want to look outside California when applying to universities.

"I want to go someplace different," Ryan said. "There's so much out there."

Twitter: @joannaclay

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