Excitement and rain mark the first day back to school

Rain clouds loomed and the occasional drizzle fell as families and children in Germantown returned for the first day of classes in a new school year this morning.

After a summer of playing basketball and hanging out with friends, 14-year-old Quincelle Smith headed to Mastery Charter Pickett School for the first time as a ninth grader. He said he was a little groggy from waking up early, but happy to reap the benefits of age.

“We get our own lockers and we get to walk out of line,” he said, explaining that he doesn’t have to be escorted to classes, but only if he abides by the rules. “We can walk alone, but we gotta earn it.”

Daniel Gillian, now in the 12th grade at Mastery Pickett was a little wearier. He went to summer school while most classmates were on vacation.

“It was hard, but I passed,” said Gillian, who is excited to graduate this year and hopes to pursue a career as a Philadelphia Police Department detective.

Meanwhile, at the Germantown Friends School, proud parents dropped their kids off, and the students made their way to a school-wide assembly.

“It was a little rough getting up early, you know. We’re not used to it, but the kids did great and they are very excited to be here,” said Cindy Randall, mother of two daughters.

Her oldest, Samantha, started sixth grade Tuesday. Mom already noticed that, in middle school, the rules changed a bit.

“It wasn’t too cool to have parents take her in, so we got out of there fast,” she laughed, as she scooped up her youngest daughter, Georgia. “This is our little one here, she’s not in school yet.”

The Randalls said private school was the best choice for them, “We came here and fell in love with it,” said Cindy’s husband Gary, a Penn Charter alum.

Some families are just getting back into the school-year rhythm. Noah Cook, his wife Debbie and their children just came back from a last-minute getaway to their home in the Poconos.

“We’ve been on vacation for the past week, so the kids are used to going to bed late, but we made it,” said Noah Cook, who has a first and second grader at the school. “They were a little nervous … but we got out of here without any tears.”

Cook’s attention turned to school superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s recent departure.

“I think it’s a shame they had to pay her off so much to get her to go, but it seems like she was just a source of controversy and distraction,” he said. “But I think it’s for the best.”

By 8:30 a.m., a drizzle became a steady pour as Philadelphia children began their first days back.

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