About 180 days on the calendar and more than 100 new names to learn – another school year begins.

Well, now it is official, at least here in Saco at Thornton Academy. Like many schools around the state, we began classes in earnest this past Thursday, August 30, when the entire student body wandered back to school from summer vacation.

1,600 Students from nearly 28 different countries gathered in the gym to listen as administrators and teachers welcomed them back to the Saco campus. (Photo by David Hanright)

Our school follows a block schedule, four classes per day with alternating maroon and gold days. Over the course of two days, a student will attend all eight of the classes on their schedule.

But on the first “real” day of school, we follow an altered schedule and students visit every classroom and teacher. The teachers introduce themselves, take attendance, and give the sleepy students some idea of what class will be like for the rest of the semester or the rest of the year.

In some respects, the last few years have been amazing. Our student population has grown to the point where we are one of the largest, if not the largest high school in the state (1,600 students), and at any time during the day, I might have a student in my class from one of 28 different countries.

Students from Saco, Dayton, and Arundel now routinely sit in their classrooms and learn first-hand about life in any number of countries. It almost always makes them value our country even more.

In some ways, the first day with all students is both the best and one of the worst days on the calendar. As a teacher, we briefly get to meet the students, and some of the seats in the room are filled with familiar faces while others contain nervous or anxious teenagers who would rather be almost anywhere else on a hot and humid day. Not me.

For the first time, Seniors fill the section of the gym dedicated to their class. (Photo by David Hanright)

I don’t blame them, though. After more than two months of not having to worry about the alarm on my phone, it will take a week so before we all get accustomed to our regular schedule. But the good news of the day is that teachers and students will get to enjoy one more long weekend before the calendar turns to September.

Don’t tell anybody, but I am looking forward to the year, learning from my students and working together as we make our way through the curriculum. There are so many stories to tell and so many stories to hear. Hopefully, I’ll share a few here.

See you on the roads and stay tuned – as always, if I think it’s interesting, I’ll write about it.

Thanks again for reading my stories and as always, you may purchase my novel, Homecoming: A Soldier’s Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption at your local, independent bookstore or online: DavidArenstam.comBrysonTaylorPublishing.com, or Amazon.com

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David Arenstam

About David Arenstam

Originally from away, but here to stay - Maine is my home and I love writing stories about the people and places from my end of the state. I am a teacher and writer and my first novel, "Homecoming: A Soldier's Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption" is available now at www.BrysonTaylorPublishing.com