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Thursday was the first day back from summer for area schools including in the Blair Oaks R-2 School District and at St. Martin Catholic School, and their leaders said things were off to a good start.

Blair Oaks Superintendent Jim Jones said buses may have been a few minutes late in dropping students off after school, but that was not out of the ordinary for a first day, and nothing else was either.

Jones said buses left school maybe about eight to 10 minutes later than normal, which meant routes probably finished about 15 minutes later than usual, but that's because of "efforts we make to make sure everybody's in the right place" — that is, on the correct bus.

"You never know what you're going to get on day one," Jones said, but he said Thursday went smoothly.

He said traffic is always an issue on the first day, but that by the third day of a school year, "everybody's kind of got the timing worked out."

Jones said his favorite part of the first day, and any day, is greeting students, and he makes it a point to greet the youngest children.

"There's nothing like sharing a high five with every student (of grades) K-4," he said.

St. Martin's Principal Julie Clingman had her first day Thursday as the principal with school in session, but she also taught for 10 years at the school once before.

"Overwhelmingly comfortable, and very familiar, yet very new and very exciting — so I don't know, it's just hard to describe. It's a new, comfortable feeling," Clingman said of being back as the principal.

She was the principal for 22 years at St. George Catholic School in Hermann, after her years as a teacher at St. Martin.

"It is like a whirlwind, a good whirlwind, though. It's nice to be back in school," nice to be able to meet all the children as a community, she said.

She added she's looking forward to getting to know and watching the school's children learn and finding out the gifts God has made for them.

She credited the school's staff for helping her over the summer with her transition, and she said she enjoys the "great small town, small parish feel" of St. Martin, despite it being the ninth largest parish in the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City.

Helias Catholic High School had a half-day of school Thursday for juniors and seniors; the first full day for all its students will be Monday.

St. Stanislaus, St. Joseph Cathedral, St. Peter Interparish and Immaculate Conception Catholic schools have also started again this week.

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