Carle Place High School seniors woke with the sun Wednesday to start their last "first day of school" together in a decades-old tradition.
Wearing matching black T-shirts emblazoned with the word "Seniors," about 100 students in the Class of 2019 gathered tailgate-style in the school’s parking lot for their signature rite — "Senior Sunrise" — eating breakfast sandwiches and listening to music.
At precisely 7:50 a.m., they proudly marched into the school at 168 Cherry Lane, hooting and hollering as they ran a lap or two through the hallways, cheering in celebration.
“I’ve been watching the seniors do 'Senior Sunrise' since I was a freshman, and now I don’t want to leave,” Skylar Reed, 17, of Carle Place, said beforehand. “We’re our own community. I don’t want to leave the community I grew up with.”
The Carle Place district was one of 64 public systems across Nassau and Suffolk counties that began classes on Wednesday morning in the largest single back-to-school day of the 2018-19 academic year on Long Island. Students in 47 districts started Tuesday, and one district began classes last week. The final dozen systems begin instruction Thursday.
All told, 430,000-plus students on the Island are back in public schools this week, along with thousands more in private and parochial schools.
“It’s a wonderful, exciting, energetic way to start the school year,” David J. Flatley, Carle Place's superintendent, said of the seniors' annual rite. The district has about 1,350 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade.
He laughed as some of them ran cheering through the hall before class.
“The kids are showing how happy they are to be a member of our community, and I think that’s a great message for all the students in our school,” Flatley said.
Why run through the hallways? “For them to see we’re seniors,” said Alexis Ruiz, 17, of Carle Place. “We’re here together."
Senior Sophia Torres, 16, of Carle Place, said she’s excited for her last year, but “scared at the same time.”
Torres plans to work after high school before attending Nassau Community College. She doesn’t know yet what she wants to study going forward.
“Time flew crazy fast,” Torres said. “I feel like I was in seventh grade yesterday.”