HUACHUCA CITY — When the gates of Huachuca City School opened Monday, students and parents flooded the sidewalks to their classrooms, some more excited than others.
Fifth-grade friends and classmates Janie Roybal and Taliyah James sat on a bench waiting to be let into the school, catching up with one another ahead of the first day of school for students attending the three Tombstone Unified School District campuses.
“I was really pumped up to go back to school,” Roybal said. “I’m really excited to meet new people and learn new stuff.”
James was not as excited about the onset of the new school year, but admitted she is ready to learn because that will inch her one step closer to finishing school and moving on to the next step in her education.
While Roybal and James are veterans to the K-8 school, Aubrey Baltrus is a new face at Huachuca City School. Despite her unfamiliarity with the campus, Baltrus had the same readiness to hit the books. She joins her cousin Alex Green at the school after moving from Hereford.
“I’m nervous about everything,” Baltrus said. “I’m looking forward to science. I really like science, it’s my favorite subject.”
Her aunt, Joline Green, made sure to be there for Baltrus and Green’s son Alex because she wanted to make sure they were comfortable, especially with Baltrus being new and not knowing many people.
“My mom did it with us,” Green said of ensuring the kids were prepared.
Not long after the first bell sounded off at all three TUSD campuses, Superintendent Robert Devere reported a smooth start to the first day of school.
“I realize it’s still early, but buses are running on schedule and our students are getting to class on time,” Devere said. “We had one bus that was a little over-crowded, but were able to divert another one to that location to pick up the kids. We’ll be making some adjustments to prevent that from happening again.”
Despite the brief diversion, all students arrived at school on time, said Devere, who planned to visit TUSD’s three campuses throughout the day.
Tombstone High School staff were the first to welcome students back and greet those who are new to the area and first-timers in the district.
New to the district as an incoming senior, William Prescott recently moved to the area from Oregon. He is enrolled in the school’s JROTC program and started his morning by participating in a go-kart relay race.
“This is my first experience with JROTC and I certainly wasn’t expecting this on my first day of school,” he laughed while stepping out of the go-kart. “From what I’m seeing so far, I think this is going to be a really good program for me. I enrolled in JROTC because I’m planning to join the Army. I like the camaraderie I’m seeing between the different students in the program. From everything I’ve heard, this is a really good JROTC program.”
According to Tombstone High School Principal David Thursby, Prescott is just one of many new faces to the school, which boasts the highest enrollment to date for the Yellow Jackets.
“Most of my teachers are returning, and I expect our new hires are going to do a great job, based on their interviews and past experience,” Thursby said. “With 444 students, this is our largest enrollment in the school’s history. A little over 60 percent of our students are out-of-district, which speaks volumes to the education the students receive here.”