MANATEE -- With dad shouldering her purple backpack, Allyson Paquin made her way into her very first day of school.
She was wearing a Minnie Mouse dress, a pink and purple headband to keep her hair in place, sparkly star-studded earrings and little crocs for her first day of VPK at Blackburn Elementary School. She was looking forward to "rug time" and meeting new friends.
At age 4, she was also quiet and timid, walking between parents Chantelle and Adam at Blackburn Elementary School on Monday morning.
But she had been prepared for the day that lay before her, with Mom and Dad reading some books about school and attending the open house.
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"She's ready, I think," Chantelle said.
Ready or not, about 48,000 students headed into Manatee County Schools on Monday for the first day of the 2015-16 school year. They were welcomed into 51 traditional schools and 12 charter schools across the district.
As with most first days, there were a few bumps. Bayshore High School and Lee Middle School were warm until about 11:30 in the morning. Officials said something over the weekend had knocked the air conditioning
out, so it took a while for the schools to cool down.
Overall it was "a typical first day," said Mike Barber, a spokesman for the school district after an end-of-day debriefing. Some buses were running late as they met children on their route for the first time this year.
But for the most part, it was smooth sailing, said Superintendent Diana Greene.
Students seemed excited to get back into the swing of the school year.
There were only a few tears at Blackburn, principal Marla Massi-Blackmore reported. She credited the smooth transition to a good turnout at open house, where students were able to familiarize themselves with the campus.
"I'm excited to go back to school," said 5-year-old Analy Perez, who was entering kindergarten Monday and was joined by her 3-year-old sister Isabella, who was heading into VPK.
Analy said she was excited to work with "numbers" and Isabella wasn't really sure what she was looking forward to yet.
Braden River High School senior Keagan Libera, 17, was looking forward to his senior year so much that he was up and ready before his alarm went off at 6 a.m., he said after school.
"I was ready to go."
On the other hand, 14-year-old Abbi Franco, who was starting as a freshman at Braden River, was nervous her first day. But once the final bell rang, she said she had a good day.
"I'm looking forward to meeting new people," she said.
Employees at Braden River High School were working to enroll students all day, even up until the final bell.
Principal Jennifer Gilray expects to have more than 2,000 students by Wednesday, after more than 1,900 showed up on the first day of school. In a change from previous years, the school ran a different schedule on the first day, sending students to an abbreviated period with all seven teachers, so teachers could pass out class lists, go over expectations and do introductions. The high school normally runs on a block schedule.
"It was a wonderful first day," Gilray said.
At Lee Middle School, the morning motto was to "get 'em in, get 'em fed, get 'em home," principal Scott Cooper joked. He expected to count about 980 students on Monday, right around where officials estimated enrollment.
After spending two weeks in Guatemala during the summer with his family, Uri Martinez, an eighth-grade student at Lee Middle School, said he was excited for math and art this year.
"I can get creative with art," Uri said.
Sitting in Tony Smith's television production class at Lee Middle, Martinez was ready to get hands on experience with some new programs this year.
Smith's classes at Lee Middle are switching over from an iMovie editing software to using Adobe programs, which are also used at the high school levels.
"They'll be able to do even better once they're in high school," Smith said.
At Southeast High School, students enjoyed their first day of school in a remodeled cafeteria. The school made a switch this year to have three lunch periods instead of two, because growing enrollment was putting a strain on the outdated cafeteria. A third serving line was added in the remodel, to get the students through the line quicker, so they could spend more time eating and relaxing.
"We put in a great sound system, too," Principal Jim Pauley said.
Southeast High School is also home to the district's Project Hope program, which is in its second year.
The program targets students who should be in ninth grade because of their age but haven't yet completed enough credits to graduate the eighth grade.
Instead of leaving the students in middle schools with younger students, they attend Southeast High School, where they simultaneously work on their eighth-grade studies and their ninth-grade work.
The goal is to have the students caught up with their eighth-grade work by the end of the first semester. The students can then return to their home high schools.
Southeast is serving 130 students in the Project Hope program. Greene challenged the students on Monday morning.
"Do not waste this opportunity," Greene said. "I know you can do it."
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.