It's official: Class is now in session at all of Long Island's public schools.
The goodbye kisses and hello hugs began Sept. 1 across Nassau and Suffolk counties. By Sept. 9, summer break was over and instruction was in full swing in all of Long Island's 124 school districts.
Newsday captured the range of first-day moments and emotions -- the joy, the trepidation, the locker assignments -- from Southampton to Long Beach.
At Wading River School, "welcome ambassadors" greeted their fellow students -- third-, fourth- and fifth-graders -- with hand-drawn signs adorned with smiley faces and stars.
At Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School in Plainview, stacks of AP Biology, AP Psychology and Precalculus textbooks dwindled as teachers distributed them to students on Wednesday.
As lessons began, students broke out pen and paper to take notes in AP Physics and AP History at Freeport High School; fifth-graders met at the chalkboard for a social studies exercise at Milton L. Olive Middle School in Wyandanch; and kindergarteners at John S. Hobart Elementary School in Shirley acquainted themselves with shapes and objects under the watchful eye of teacher Jennifer Parise.
"Kindergarten is an exceptional grade level, and we get to see it through the eyes of them walking in for the very first time and starting their educational journey," Parise told Newsday on the first day of school on Sept. 1.
Students aren't the only ones facing new experiences. Kevin Coster is in his first year as superintendent of the William Floyd school district in Brookhaven, which educates more than 8,000 pupils in five elementary schools -- one of which is Hobart -- two middle schools and a high school.
"It's going to be a great year," Coster said.
Newsday shares his enthusiasm. Welcome back to school, Long Island.