ELKHART — Nerves, excitement and curiosity were all on the faces and in the comments of students at Mary Daly Elementary School on Thursday as they headed back to class for the first day of school.

The K-6 school, on Elkhart’s west side, opened its doors at 8:35 a.m. to more than 500 enrolled students.

The morning kicked off with parents and students strolling through the hallways to locate their classrooms with assistance from school officials.

“We’re really excited to start the school year,” said Carolyn Lesperance, assistant principal at Mary Daly. “Our biggest goal today is just to build those relationships with kids as they start school.”

Students at Mary Daly began the day with a location training session in which they were given a tour of the building by teachers and staff to learn classroom, lunchroom and playground procedures, meet their classmates and teachers and learn various other school rules.

Before heading to her class, Aubrielle Rhyne, now a third-grader at Mary Daly, said she’s a little nervous, but excited to be back in school.

The 8-year-old said her favorite subject is reading and she hopes her class can read “Dork Diaries.”

Fourth-grader Katie Tucker said she’s glad to be back with friends and looks forward to recess.

But when asked what the best thing about Mary Daly is, Tucker responded, “We get to learn.”

The school has many returning students and quite a few new kindergartners who are starting their first school experience at Mary Daly, Lesperance said.

Lesperance said many of the kindergartners took the school’s Kindergarten Camp over the summer to help them get acclimated to the school building and a classroom setting before the start of school. 

“The kindergarten camp really helped them learn what to expect and we’re just happy they're beginning their school journey here with us at Mary Daly,” she said.

It was the first day back to school for Elkhart and Baugo school districts on Thursday, a day after Concord, Middlebury and Fairfield.

Wa-Nee schools returned on Tuesday and Goshen schools was the first public school corporation in Elkhart County to return on Aug. 7.


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