'Ready for new experiences' in new Cherry Creek school year

Classes for 2019-20 kick off with jitters, community spirit

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For adults, it's a scene that puts nerves on edge and inspires fond memories all at once. For many students, it's their first step into a new world.

“It's a little overwhelming — it's just new,” said freshman Mimi O'Brien after stepping through the doors at Eaglecrest High School on the first day of school.

Older students stood ready in shirts bearing the logo of Link Crew, the group that helps newcomers find their way at the top of a new year. Cherry Creek School District's classes began Aug. 12.

“I'm just ready for new experiences, but it's definitely nerve-wracking,” O'Brien said. “It definitely helped when (a student) asked if I needed help because that was my biggest worry, not knowing where my classes were.”

Down the hall, Erik Seaver waited for students next to his ceramics classroom, giving warm greetings to students he knew by name.

“I'm excited for freshmen to get the culture of Eaglecrest, which is that the first day isn't a day of bullying — it's a day of welcoming and kindness,” said Seaver, who has taught in that same classroom for more than 20 years. “That's really what we try to accomplish here: making everyone feel like they belong.”

A few miles south, a principal helped families navigate the drop-off process at Liberty Middle School and looked forward to progress this year.

“We're opening our new innovation center this year,” said Kevin Doherty, referring to the Innovation Spaces — designed to spark curiosity, critical thinking and collaboration — that are nearly finished opening throughout the district's elementary and middle schools. “I'm really excited about the opportunities for our kids.”

Nerves were palpable for some students walking up to Liberty, and Victoria Graham helped her son, sixth-grader Beckham Graham, find his classes on a map.

“He calls it 'nerviting,' ” Victoria Graham said. “Nervous and exciting at the same time.”

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