Boonville students enthusiastically headed back to school Wednesday

Wednesday marked the first day of school for the 1,558 Boonville R-1 School District and 204 Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School students. For many, it seemed as if school started a week early compared to previous years.
Over 351 students entered the doors of Laura Speed Elliott Middle School as a new principal and assistant principal welcomed them. LSE Principal Fred Smith said the morning started off very well.
"There is a great atmosphere, the weather is gorgeous and the staff is all here ready to help the students. For the most part the kids have a smile on their face and are ready to start the education process again," Smith said.
Smith introduced the new assistant principal along with discussing some of the changes, which have occurred over the summer.
"Desiree Jones is the new assistant principal. Most of the staff is intact and we have hired five new staff members," Smith said.
Smith said the biggest thing is creating a good learning atmosphere and making the biggest difference he and his staff can to the students.
"There are some fantastic teachers in the district to help these students learn and grow," Smith said.
After many years as Hawks, LSE students are now Pirates. This change has been done district wide, effecting all schools in the Boonville system. Smith said it will take some time to visually see the transition to the Pirate uniforms and colors.
"On football, we have already gone to the blue and white. Basketball will take a little longer. The Boonville High School has been fantiastic about sharing some of those uniforms. I think it is good, which may bring the community together as one," Smith said.
Smith said his main goal will be to do his best to promote all the good things going on at the school.
"We represent the community," Smith said.
For Saints Peter and Paul, the first day of school was a welcoming sight for its students.
"We had a really good smooth start and have welcomed many new students this year." Saints Peter and Paul Principal Alan Lammers said.
Saints Peter and Paul welcomed new staff members this year, including Teacher Assistant Celeste Bowman, Office Secretary Theresa Grissum and Teacher Assistant Theresa Krebs.
Lammers said construction will soon begin on a new computer lab and art room and added an additional parking lot has been opened up for parking.
New Boonville resident Tabitha VanDyke was waiting for her son Dominic to come out of LSE after his first day of school. She is happy to be in Boonville since she works in Columbia and welcomes the quiet atmosphere of the area.
"Boonville is quiet just like the small town we came from," VanDyke said.
While moving here this summer, she has been impressed with the district after enrolling her child who started the sixth grade at LSE.
"Things were a little hectic in the morning but things got smoothed out," VanDyke said. "We are looking forward to a good school year."