Excitement abounds at school year’s start

HOLMES BEACH – A lot of excitement and a few tears mark the first day of the new school year at Anna Maria Elementary.

The school opened its doors Aug. 10 to welcome students and faculty. While the return to the classroom was old hat for some of the older returning students, new students, particularly the incoming kindergarten class, had some mixed emotions with both parents and students tearing up as the bell rang to start the day.

“I’m trying to hold it together,” Tammie Cryer said, waving goodbye to her daughter Sophia as she entered Kelly Crawford’s kindergarten class to begin school.

First grader Teigan Fleischer was all smiles on the first day, greeting Holmes Beach Code Enforcement Officers James Thomas and Nate Brown with high-fives on her way to class.

“I’m excited,” she said.

AME back to school Crawford
Kindergarten teacher Kelly Crawford receives an enthusiastic greeting from a former student at AME’s back to school night. – Kristin Swain | Sun

Several first responders were on-hand to help greet the students and their guardians while also drawing attention to the 15 miles per hour speed limit in the school zone, including Manatee County EMS workers and several members of the Holmes Beach Police Department. Chief Bill Tokajer was the first to greet students as they stepped off school buses, helping teacher Gary Wooten and School Resource Officer Josh Fleischer escort students into the building.

There was one change for the new kindergarten class this year. Parents of kindergarteners brought their children to class where they said goodbye rather than meeting in the auditorium for the annual boo-hoo breakfast. Crawford said the change was to help students get adjusted to the schedule they’ll have for the remainder of the school year, hopefully decreasing confusion.

“I love the first day of school, it’s exciting,” Crawford said, greeting students both new and old with a hug. “I love being with the kids.”

As a reminder for motorists, Tokajer said HBPD officers will be monitoring drivers in the school zone along Gulf Drive where the speed limit drops from 35 to 15 mph 45 minutes at the beginning and end of school days.