New third-grade teacher Kelsey Schwartz remembers well her journey through the school system at Wadena-Deer Creek from K-12. Those memories came streaming back as she started her first year of teaching back at the newly remodeled elementary school Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The Minnesota State University Moorhead student graduated in May and hoped she'd one day find a spot in a third grade classroom. Without even knowing a third-grade spot was open, she was hired for just that class, in a place she knew so well.

"I love the age," Schwartz said. "They are able to do so much. They are independent, but they still need you."

Schwartz, along with the other staff had about one week to move in and have their classes ready for students. For Schwartz that meant creating a wall graphic featuring her 19 students and their birthdays; making sure supplies were in order, creating a label for everything and knowing the plan for the coming weeks of learning, to name a few.

Schwartz, along with a throng of new teachers was busy going through the first day routines. For them, this first day was an important one to really get to know her students. After a trip to the breakfast line, the group returned to their classroom to create name badges in order to make sure everyone could get to know each other.

Watching the workings of the school was elementary principal Louis Rutten and ICS site superintendent Chris Wacker who both said the new bus parking and parent drop off sites worked very well for the first day of operation. Signage and marked parking made the drastic change flow smoothly. Other work behind the scenes will continue for several months as this school update comes to a close.

Rutten said a change this year is that at the end of the day, all students that will be picked up by parents will be dropped off at the school cafeteria at 3:05 p.m. Instead of parents picking up their kids in each classroom, they will be picked up in the cafeteria.

While there was still some first day blues for some students, Rutten commented how the new flooring of the school really helped create a calmer environment. Not just calmer colors, but the softer feel of the flooring helped to absorb some of the noise that can be a bit overwhelming at times.

Little could be done to absorb the flurry of sounds at the new playground as kids got their first taste of the new rubber playground material, new swings, basketball courts, climber, zip line, and a merry-go-round. Each area of the playground was filled with the sounds of kids screaming and shouting with joy, over the noise of the cool wind that gusted through the site.

Open house

You'll have a chance to try out the new playground and take a tour of the updated elementary school from 5:30 -7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 16 as the school hosts an open house that night. ICS Consulting plans to celebrate the project by grilling up a storm of food for those in attendance.