New year, fresh start for students

First-day-of-school jitters were palpable in the third-grade classroom as the usually wiggly students sat still and quiet at their desks when two new people were introduced to them.

"Who's excited about your first day of school at Kaiser? Who's nervous?" new Principal Deborah Granger asked Kate Dickerson's class.

All around the Newport-Mesa Unified School District on Tuesday, students were saying goodbye to summer and hello to the first day of school.

At Kaiser in Costa Mesa, along with Andersen and Harbor View elementary schools in Newport Beach, students had not only a new teacher and new classmates, but a new principal. The district's new superintendent, Fred Navarro, also had his first day of school as the head of the 21,800 students across Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.

Navarro, or "king of the district," as Granger introduced him, visited Kaiser, Andersen and Corona del Mar High School. He plans to visit more schools in the coming weeks.

"I think it's important to get out and see that schools are getting off to a good start," said Navarro, who jumped into action at CdM helping students find their classrooms.

Fourth-grader Jackson Swain, 9, said he was both excited and nervous before school started, but by the first recess it was "so far, so good."

"My teacher is really nice, and I think it's going to be a good year," he said.

At Kaiser, many parents gathered in the multipurpose room once class started for a Welcome Back Coffee hosted by the Parent Faculty Organization and Kaiser Woodland Schools Foundation.

Joe A. Soto, 80, attended the event before his flight back to Indiana. The grandfather of Karoline and Katie Shannon has a special tradition where he takes his granddaughters to the first day of school every year.

An earlier version of this story had the wrong last name for Joe A. Soto and the wrong first name for Karoline Shannon.

He said he does it to show them that education is of the foremost importance.

"They were really excited," he said. "They woke me up this morning."

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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