EVERETT — The last days of summer still clung to them.
On Wednesday, students in Laurel Hasten’s third-grade class were just beyond long days filled with campouts, sticky Popsicles, the sting of chlorine pools and sun-baked bike rides. The students were settling into desks, long pants and the feel of pencils in their hands. They wore new clothes and toted backpacks not yet broken in by the weight of books and sack lunches.
School is back in session at Challenger Elementary School in south Everett.
Wednesday was the first day of school for most of the more than 100,000 students across Snohomish County.
It also marked Hasten’s first day as a full-time teacher, with her own students.
“I was pretty nervous about it. It’s been such a fun day. The nerves went away and it’s just been an exciting day,” she said.
Extra supplies were piled up on a table. Bulletin boards were waiting for artwork. An inviting reading nook took up a corner of the classroom. Hasten had spent days readying room 25.
She is an alumna of the Mukilteo School District. Hasten grew up on Whidbey Island until middle school. She graduated from Kamiak High School in 2010.
She attended Central Washington University at the Edmonds Community College campus in Lynnwood. Hasten, 22, graduated in June and was offered a job at Challenger a few weeks later.
She said her interest in becoming a teacher was first sparked when she helped her mom, who operated a day care center on Whidbey Island.
“I think just growing up and having so many little kids around, it gave me a taste of being a teacher and a role model,” Hasten said.
She took a class in high school focused on careers in education, which solidified her decision. Hasten also volunteered in different elementary schools while at Kamiak.
She did her student teaching at Endeavor Elementary School in Mukilteo. While going to college, she worked as an educational assistant with the district’s Early Childhood Education Assistance Program.
She is excited to have her own classroom.
“I love the third grade. I think the kiddos are so excited and you see such growth in them as learners,” Hasten said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Hasten sat on a sky blue rocking chair with 26 students gathered around her. By then, she’d memorized everyone’s names, calling on them as hands quickly shot up in the air. They were brainstorming ways to “fill each other’s buckets.”
Be kind to other people.
Always do good even if others don’t.
“We’re going to try our very best to be bucket fillers, right?” Hasten asked her students.
“Yes!” the kids answered back.
A little later, students lined up for the last recess of the day.
Juan, 8, said he was going to miss summer vacation, especially going to Mexico with his grandma. So far, though, he was happy to be back with his friends.
His classmate, Lana, 8, will miss swimming and going to Lake Chelan. She’s excited to learn multiplication and science, including lessons about crayfish.
Daryna’s dad brought her and her older sister to school on Wednesday. She thinks they’ll ride the bus the rest of the year and she really likes P.E., music, science and writing.
In fact, the 8-year-old is happy school is finally here.
“I couldn’t sleep last night. I was too excited,” Daryna said. “I just couldn’t wait to go to school.”