POLK COUNTY, Iowa -- School may be reserved for learning but many children, including Olivia Simpson of West Des Moines' Westridge Elementary, knows her favorite time of day as she quickly responded with "recess."
Experiences were somewhat mixed as Iowa kids began their first week in the classroom. Cindy Vasquez, a fifth grader at Urbandale's Valerius Elementary said, "I liked sleeping in late and now I have to wake up early to go to school and do so many things."
Urbandale Middle School sixth grader Belma Krusko had other worries on her mind.
"I was scared that I would get lost," said Krusko.
Some sprang quickly out of bed for the first day of class.
Valerias third grader Edin Suljic said, "I kind of missed school.”
Simpson was eager to get back in the swing of things as well and said, "I missed my teachers."
First impressions, like backpacks, seem to be essential this year. Edin proudly displayed a Super Mario Bros backpack and said, "I like the game and all. There's a game just like it."
Olivia showed off a large backpack that held a special meaning. "It starts with an 'L' and mostly people call me Liv."
Another first grader at Westridge Elementary, Soleil Aldini held her backpack tightly and said, "I like the unicorn and it has my name on it."
Many like Cindy, seemed excited about the year ahead. “I want to read a lot, be a writer and I like singing."
Edin recapped some early first day lessons. "Since it`s the first day, we got all of our supplies out and we learned about respect, being safe and responsibility."
They also quickly realized the summer freedom was gone. Belma said, "They told us about the rules and that took a long time."
For Belma Krusko, the new year signaled a right of passage from an unlikely place. "The lunch they have is really good lunch. It's nothing like elementary. It's really tasty and yummy, and especially the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."
After the long hard day, it all seemed rewarding. "It was amazing, they are so nice over there," said Belma.
Soleil said, "At recess I was able to talk to some new friends."
Riding the bus gives these kids an early sense of independence.
When Belma was asked if she feels like a big kid now that she's moved up to middle school, she quickly stated, "Duh!"
But no matter how much they learn and grow, they will never grow too old for a hug from Mom at the end of the day.