COLLETON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Approximately 5,800 students headed back to the classroom in Colleton County Tuesday morning after a long summer break.
District spokeswoman Christine Stroble said those students will attend the 11 schools and programs within the county.
Bus drivers could be seen pulling into the Transportation Department lot off Tuskegee Airmen Drive around 5 a.m.
Stroble said roughly 3,000 students will ride the buses to school during the 2017-2018 year.
Also new this year, bus drivers are seeing an increase in their paychecks after the district decided to increase salary rates to be more competitive with surrounding school districts, Stroble said.
Elementary schools started the day at 8 a.m. while some schools, including Northside Elementary, had a welcome back breakfast for the students.
"[We are] beyond excitement for both kids and parents," said Northside Elementary Principal Wilsey Hamilton. "They are very excited to be back at school and see their new teachers."
"It's been a good morning," said parent Selena McFadden. "Everyone got sleep. We got up on time. So it's pretty good."
While getting up may have been a challenge for some students, many said they were looking forward to their favorite classes.
"[I like] art," said Kamya McFadden.
"Math and science," added Katelyn Gunnells, a fourth grader.
Also new for the 2017-2018 school year, students in grades 1-8 will each receive a Google Chromebook thanks to the one to one computer initiative.
School districts across the country have jumped on board to give students access to laptop computers and the internet at home and school.
"We're just excited that we're able to do it," said Colleton County Superintendent Dr. Franklin Foster. "This has afforded us the opportunity to expand learning opportunities for our students outside of just wanting to do the regular curriculum."
"We want our students to be stars," Hamilton added. "We want our students to be safe, timely, have A plus attitudes and be as respectful as possible. We encourage our teachers to make sure we're preparing every student today for tomorrow."
Those Chromebooks are expected to arrive sometime in October.
Bells Elementary School will become the first elementary school in the state to partner with the New Tech Network, implementing its teaching and learning practices in the district, Stroble said.
The New Tech Network is a program which offers personalized learning opportunities to allow teachers to connect and learn, at their own pace, ways to increase student engagement and future success.
Much of the training is done virtually.
One-hundred ninth graders will also begin their high school career in the District's Health Careers Academy, which utilizes the New Tech Network practices.