BEMIDJI -- On Monday morning young students trickled back in to Horace May Elementary for the first time since March.

Bundled up children wore oversized backpacks and face masks printed with cartoon characters.

A student embraces his parent before heading into Horace May Elementary. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)
A student embraces his parent before heading into Horace May Elementary. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)

Staff members welcomed them back and herded them toward classrooms.

Parents photographed their children by the entrance sign -- some adjusted their student’s mask before saying goodbye, while others stood back and waved as their student disappeared into the school building.

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Kaia Hess and Doug Bender photograph Horace May student Raea Bender in front of the school sign, younger brother Cash Bender tries to join in. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)
Kaia Hess and Doug Bender photograph Horace May student Raea Bender in front of the school sign, younger brother Cash Bender tries to join in. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)

Over the past few weeks, be it virtually or in classrooms, students around the area began the 2020-21 school year. Sept. 14 marked the start of the new year for Bemidji Area Schools students.

Leilani Boyer said her son, Lucas, a new kindergartner, was thrilled to begin the year. “He was the first one in bed last night,” she said.

Kindergartener Lucas Boyer looks toward Horace May Elementary as he walks led by his mother, Leilani. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)
Kindergartener Lucas Boyer looks toward Horace May Elementary as he walks led by his mother, Leilani. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)

“The kids are all excited, I was expecting a lot more tears,” Principal Kathleen Van Wert said, laughing. “I think everybody’s ready for this.”