Education

With fire trucks and high-fives, Roosevelt Elementary opens for first day of school

Firefighter Trevor Richards, right, along with other Spokane firefighters, welcomes students and their younger siblings to the first day of school, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, at Roosevelt Elementary in Spokane. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Fire Equipment Operator Russ Reser, right, welcomes students to the first day of school at Roosevelt School in Spokane, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. Several firefighters, including Deput Chief Mark John, left, greeted students on the first day of school. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Eight-year-old Zachary Gilk poses for his mother, Tracie Johnson, left, outsiide Roosevelt Elementary, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, the first day of school in the Spokane school district. The handheld signs were provided outside the school for parents to use for photos. , (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Eight-year-old Zachary Gilk hugs his preschool-aged brother Ethan Johnson outside Roosevelt Elementary, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, as the older brother prepares to leave him for 2nd grade on the first day of school in the Spokane school district. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Lt. Mike Walker of the Spokane Fire Department poses for pictures with Nevin Wambusi, 6, outside Roosevelt Elementary, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, before Wambusi headed to first grade on the first day of school in the Spokane school district. Several Spokane firefighters showed up to welcome kids back to school. Wambusis family is from Uganda. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

At Roosevelt Elementary, the first day of school was as shiny and new as a fire truck.

And there it was Thursday morning, arriving on 14th Avenue along with hundreds of parents and children.

Suddenly, back-to-school day was even better.

“This is always an anxious time for kids,” said Lt. Mike Walker of the Spokane Fire Department, who has two children of his own.

After arriving at the South Hill school, Walker and three colleagues offered cheers and high-fives to hundreds of children.

“It’s super important for us to be out in the community and for kids to see us in a different light than they usually see us.

“We try to get out in the community as much as we can,” said Walker, whose crew was one of several sent out by Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.

Back-to-school signs were everywhere in the Spokane Public Schools district, especially at Roosevelt, where the Parent Teacher Group crafted six chalk signs, one for every grade.

Student Lucy Piskel held one that proclaimed “First Day of Fourth Grade,” then fell into the arms of her mother, Jinny.

“She really is excited for school,” Jinny Piskel said. “The school and the teachers here are great.”

The scene at Roosevelt, which is located in a residential area, was more intimate than most other schools. Many families walked to the building, some with their pets.

A few came from across the street.

At the front door stood new principal Laura Franks, who moved to Spokane after 20 years in California.

“Everyone has been so welcoming,” Franks said. “The district could not have been more wonderful.”

“I’m excited, the parents are excited and I think it’s going to be a great year,” Franks said.

By 8:20 a.m., the children formed ragged lines on the side of the building, and the countdown began.

Anne Putney, who brought three children to school, stood with first-grader Grace as the excitement grew.

“I always have mixed feelings – excited but also a little nervous,” Putney said.

Along with the rest of the district, Roosevelt will repeat the scene on Wednesday, when kindergartners begin classes.