NASHUA — Older generations might remember a sense of despair that hit at the end of August as summer days of freedom and fun gave way to schoolyards, class schedules and homework, but that's not the mood in Nashua.
Hundreds of kids were laughing, hugging, dancing and playing Thursday night at the city's 10th annual Nashua Goes Back to School Night at the Nashua Library. Kids had a chance to reconnect with friends, talk to school principals and pick up bags full of new school supplies at the SummerFun event, sponsored by the city's Parks and Recreation Department.
"It's going to be a great year," said Board of Education member Kim Muise who was in the middle of a crowd that seemed more like they were attending a rock concert than a school event where they could pick up their bus schedules.
"I've been out playing all summer, but I haven't seen my friends from school and I'm excited to go back," said Korben Decoursey, a sixth grader starting at Pennichuck Middle School.
Decoursey had no worries about moving up, possibly because his older brother, Nathan, will be in the eighth grade at Pennichuck this year.
As for heading back to school, Nathan said he's also looking forward to seeing friends.
"The only bad thing is getting up early," he said, adding that during the summer he usually rolls out of bed around noon.
Many kids said seeing friends, playing sports and getting back to other school activities were the main reasons they were looking forward to the opening day of school on Tuesday. And while nobody mentioned missing math or social studies, Nashua students will be ready for class.
Local businesses and organizations lined the library courtyard with tables where volunteers handed out packages of pencils, markers, rulers, crayons and other school supplies.
Melynda Hilliard of Skillsoft, an online business education service, was giving out story books, book bags and zipper cases filled with pencils with some help from volunteers from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Nashua.
"We're certainly interested in the education of Nashua children as they go through the years," said Hilliard.Dick Lavoie of Triangle Credit Union helped hand out snacks and $5 coupons kids could use to open savings accounts.
"This is the last big event of the summer and all the kids come," he said.But it wasn't just a big night for kids. Inside the library, school staff were lined up to greet new and returning students.
Main Dunstable Elementary School Principal Kelly Paradis and new Assistant Principal Kay Aathun looked as excited as their students.
"As administrators, we always look forward to this event," said Paradis. "Kids come and show their enthusiasm about going back to school."
Amherst Elementary School Principal Jennifer Scarpati, Assistant Principal Stacy Bachelor and Home and School Coordinator Delfina Berry were also happy to see so many kids looking forward to starting the new year.
"Teachers have been coming in over the past couple weeks, furiously setting up their classrooms," said Scarpati, who added the late summer rush to get ready brought a nice change to the building which gets very quiet and lonely in July.
"We're excited for the kids to come back," said Scarpati. "The school isn't the same without them."