Heading for the front door of Liberty Middle School, Tuesday morning, eighth-grader Amy Williamson couldn't have been happier.
"I'm really excited because I get to see my friends again after the long summer," she said. "And I want to be in show choir and be on the literary magazine."
AMY WAS one of some 165,000 students heading back to school this week in Fairfax County, and faculty, staff and administrators were eager to greet them as the 2005-'06 school year got underway. Principals met the buses outside and walked among the students in the hallways.
Pulling new-this-year backpacks on wheels, wearing their new clothes and shoes and toting school supplies, lunch boxes and class schedules, students of all ages returned to class. And friends who hadn't seen each other over summer break squealed with joy and hugged happily as they were once again reunited.
Buddies Amy Antle, Laurie Leaman and Torie Goldammer, all eighth-graders, walked into Liberty Middle together. Amy was looking forward to having a new school team and meeting new people. Laurie said she was ready for summer to end, and Torie could hardly wait to "see my friends again" and take Spanish.
Fresh from Centreville Elementary, seventh-grader Richard Nguyen was excited about his new school because "it has more stuff I could do." Eighth-grader Ryan Ashooh said he'd "rather be sleeping," but intends to participate in sports at Liberty and "get better at math."
Classmate Bobby Warhurst said it felt good to be back at school. "I get to see all my friends," he explained. "I had really good teachers last year, and I hope I have really good teachers this year, too." Meanwhile, Breanna Holmes was both "excited and nervous about how different eighth grade will be from seventh grade."
Hailing from Centre Ridge Elementary, seventh-grader Brittany Walker said she was happy to be in middle school. "I'm looking forward to having fun and playing clarinet in the band," she said. For the new school year, Brittany bought "a lot of Capris, shirts and a backpack."
Bull Run Elementary grad Cameron Owens was also glad to be at Liberty and was "interested in seeing how things go." He's eagerly anticipating his Inventions and Innovations in Science class and, said Cameron, "I like how the school is set up and how my classes are so close together."
AT CHANTILLY HIGH, new principal Jim Kacur was out and about and excited to be at the helm. "It's great to see the students back," he said. "The staff is ready for them, and the school's ready for the new school year. We had a great in-service last week with the faculty, and everyone's feeling very positive about the new year."
Beginning her eighth year at Chantilly was counselor Debbie Wolin. "It feels great" to return, she said. "It should be a good year." Junior Jeff Weisman was also happy to be back.
"I'm president of the Young Democrats here and, hopefully, we'll take a tour of [Washington], D.C. and visit some of the people running for local elections," he explained. "I'd like to get one of them to come and talk to our group. The sponsors are [teachers] Maryann Patey and Matt McGuire. We'll hand out literature about the group at Back to School night.
Junior Janelle Meshot was curious to meet her teachers and "see who's in my classes." She was also looking forward to her AP psychology class." Sophomore Jin Lin, however, said he felt tired and was anticipating "the last day of school."
"I wish it was still summer," said classmate Carly Aull. "I'd rather be working at my job at the Greenbriar East pool." But, she added, she's looking forward to her Gourmet Foods class.
Junior Carl Nalls said he, too, was tired, "But it's good to be back, seeing everybody." He was excited about his architectural drawing class and running track for the Chargers.
Classmate Dannielle Davis said it would be nice to see everyone again — at least "for the first few days." She, too, plans to run track. Franklin Middle grad Mike Barlow said it felt pretty good to be a new Chantilly freshman. "I like the people and want to play bass guitar in the band," he said. "I think it's gonna be a cool year."
Junior Ginny Hutchison is happiest spending time with friends — especially classmate Laura Cease, who was looking forward to "meeting new people and being an upperclassman." As for Kacur, she said retired Principal Tammy Turner "was cool, so we'll see how he is."
MEANWHILE, beginning his second year as Centreville High's leader, Principal Peter Noonan said, "I am excited to be here and glad to have last year under my belt and start another year anew." After the first class change, he said, "We had a smooth opening; everyone's in class and already working."
Freshman Danielle Heller was excited about playing on the Wildcat girls basketball team, and sophomore Tamir Malik said it was great to be back at Centreville. He was looking forward to running the 200-meter event in track and taking AP world history.
Sophomore Eric Chang was excited about taking driver's ed so he can get his driver's license, plus playing lacrosse. Classmate Ashley Warhurst (Bobby's sister) felt "kinda sad because summer's over and kinda OK because I'm seeing my friends." She was anticipating her photography class and going to school football games.
V' Andre Siler, a freshman from Atlanta, said Centreville was better than his old school. "I like some of the breaks between classes, and my first class — world history and geography — was all right." He's looking forward to "doing good and playing wide receiver on the freshman football team."
Junior Chelsea Islin was excited about her challenging schedule, especially her American Civilization classes and AP psychology. And since it's her first year as a varsity cheerleader, she can hardly wait to help strike up school spirit on football nights.
At Greenbriar East Elementary, sixth-graders Spencer Herrity and Omar Popal were both looking forward to math class, as was fifth-grader Kelsey Hurley, who especially likes division. A safety patrol, she said, "If people are running, I tell 'em to stop."
Fifth-grader Equasha Glover sported a new red sweater with colorful stripes and said she likes math, too, especially "take away." Classmate Leah Cantor likes multiplication and planned to play clarinet in the band.
FIRST-GRADER Mohamed Sultan, 6, came to school with his mom, Sitymeriem Hassen. "I like reading," he said. "It's my favorite." He also proudly displayed his backpack adorned with Teen Titans characters from the Cartoon Network.
His mother couldn't attend last week's open house, so she was there to meet his teacher and see the school. And it was clear to see that no child was more overjoyed to be going to school than Mohamed.
"In the afternoon, he'll ride the bus, so he's very excited," said his mom. "Last Thursday, he prepared all his things — backpack, school supplies, socks, shoes, everything — and laid it all out next to his bed." Finally, on Tuesday, he got to use it all.