Welcome back

For nearly 4,000 children in Eastern Madera County, the 2015-16 school year began Monday. Buses dropped off students, parents walked shy first-timers to their classrooms, and crossing guards made for safe road crossings. The excitement was palpable.

“We had a great day in Badger Country,” said Yosemite High School Principal Randy Seals. “All of us in the Badger Family ... students, staff, teachers, and school leaders ... enjoyed coming back to school and reconnecting. We welcomed well over 200 new students to YHS between our freshmen and transfer students in the sophomore, junior, and senior classes. The campus was abuzz with excitement, enthusiasm, and that undeniable Badger spirit.”

“I’m just as excited and nervous the first day of school as the kids,” Oakhurst Elementary School Principal Kathleen Murphy said. “For me, it never gets old.”

At Minarets High School, Principal Daniel Ching told his students during an opening rally that he simply couldn’t wait for the first day.

“I’ve been sitting in my office alone, with no work to do, no kids to talk to, no teachers to collaborate with, until this morning,” Ching told students at a morning back-to-school rally. “I slept in my office last night because I was waiting to see all of you guys. We’re very excited you’re all here for another great year.”

Also looking forward to another great year was Oak Creek Intermediate School Principal Brad Barcus.

“This is the second year of our Raider Strong Program that emphasizes character, academics, and fitness,” Barcus said. “It is our goal to produce well-rounded students that not only show great achievement, but who work hard and improve. We have a dedicated staff that has high expectations for our students and involved families that want the best for their children. With all of these things in place, we will have a successful year.”

California Highway Patrol officers were very visible on opening day, reminding drivers that children are present, whether walking in a school zone cross-walk or riding in a school bus. Some safe driving tips include:

* Follow the instructions on reduced-speed signs. The speed limit in school zones is 25 mph.

* Keep an eye out for children, be aware of your surroundings, and absolutely do not text while driving. It’s up to you to look for children - they do not always look both ways before crossing the street.

* Watch for crosswalk signs.

* When following a school bus, stop when you see flashing lights. The bus driver will turn off the lights when it is safe to pass.

School zones were created to keep children safe. Still, every year, children are hit by drivers who speed or who aren’t paying attention. Law enforcement stresses that when you are behind the wheel, especially in a school zone, make sure you are attentive, and watch for children.

Staff Report