The last school bus drops off a group of students at Gardner Elementary on the morning of Thursday, Aug. 12 for the first day of school. Teachers and administrators greeted the children at the front doors of the school. Staff photo by Corbin H. Crable

Gardner Elementary Principal Pam Tate gives high-fives to students as they make their way to their classrooms Thursday morning. Tate also was on hand to greet parents as they dropped their children off for the day. Staff photo by Corbin H. Crable

Students in Nikki Mallincknodt’s class already had pencils in hand as students poured into the classroom Thursday morning. It was the first day for a majority of USD 231’s students; the remainder will head back to school Friday, Aug. 13. Staff photo by Corbin H. Crable