Hugs and tears as new school year kicks off (PHOTOS)

Ashley Smith holds the phone for her daughter, Pasleigh Smith, as she video chats to her dad Derek Smith before the start of her first day of kindergarten on Tuesday, September 3, at Verda James School. Pasleigh is holding a “Daddy Doll” of her father, who has been on deployment in the Middle East with the National Guard. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Like all schools in the Natrona County School District, Verda James Elementary buzzed on Tuesday morning with the start of another school year.

Parents hugged their children and choked back tears, and friends from the previous year hit the playground before the starting bell.

School in the district traditionally starts just after Labor Day and is scheduled to wrap up on June 5, 2020.

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Photography by Dan Cepeda, Oil City News

Zayra Perez blows a kiss to her mother, Ruby Cardenas, as she heads off to her first day of third grade on Tuesday, September 3, at Verda James. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Kristin Davis hugs her daughters Emily and Carson before their first day of the new school year at Verda James. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)