Saints march back to classrooms

Published 11:15 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NSA mascot Bernie the St. Bernard welcomes Emma, 8, and Jackson, 5, Jenson.

NSA mascot Bernie the St. Bernard welcomes Emma, 8, and Jackson, 5, Jenson.

As the Marching Saints appropriately belted out “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Nansemond-Suffolk Academy welcomed students for the new school year Wednesday.

While for many it was a chance to reunite with friends they hadn’t seen during the summer, other students had the first-day — as opposed to first-day-back — experience.

According to Nancy Webb, lower school head, the excitement and nervousness was soon to give way to studiousness.

Bernie the St. Bernard welcomes young Howard Casterlow.

Bernie the St. Bernard welcomes young Howard Casterlow.


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“The building will be quiet, and everybody will be settled almost immediately,” Webb said. “The kids come back to school and you can’t believe they have been gone for the summer.”

New students and parents had attended a meet-and-greet Monday night, she said, helping the school get down to the business of teaching.

Hayli Campbell, 8, was one new face in the crowd. She entered the second grade after transferring to NSA from Norfolk Collegiate School.

“It’s very relaxed (at NSA),” said mom, Attiyah Campbell. “We got here extra early; she’s nervous but excited.”

Lisa Bono apparently had mixed emotions about the end of summer. “It’s bittersweet,” she said while farewelling fifth-grader Rylee and seventh-grader Parker. “It’s always exciting, (but) it means the rat race starts.”

NSA’s head of school, Debbie Russell, seemingly omnipresent around the school Wednesday morning, said a medley of songs by the school band was a great way to welcome students and parents.

“We wanted to kick it off and in a celebratory way,” she said. “We have the band playing music and (school mascot) Bernie (the St. Bernard) welcoming the kids and getting them off to a great start.”

It was an emotional day for many parents, Russell said — often more so than for their children.

“A lot of the parents get emotional; the students adjust just fine,” she said. “A lot of the parents have a hard time seeing them walk in that first day — it means they are another year older.”

School spokeswoman Ashley Greene reported 745 students enrolled at the end of Tuesday, the same or slightly higher than 2012-13.

Wednesday morning, pre-kindergarten had a meet-and-greet for parents and students, while lower and middle school students had opening assemblies, middle-schoolers then spending time with advisors before entering class rotations, Greene stated.

Upper school students met with advisors in the morning and visited regular classes, ahead of their first assembly, before dismissal Thursday, and the Class of 2014 started their senior year with a tailgate breakfast.

NSA starts classes almost two weeks earlier than public schools in Suffolk.

See more photos from the day on the Suffolk News-Herald Facebook page.