Fresh start: Solana Santa Fe is ready for a new school year

The last days of summer before school starts are a principal’s busiest time, but it’s also an exciting time, Solana Santa Fe School Principal Julie Norby said.

“One of the things I love about our profession is the opportunity every year to start fresh,” Norby said. “It’s very exhilarating and motivating.”

Solana Santa Fe will start the school year with 411 students, up from last year and 25 students more than it had projected.

“It’s one of biggest kindergarten classes we’ve ever had,” Norby said.

Students had a chance to meet their teachers and check out their new classrooms on Aug. 27 before school started at 8 a.m. sharp on Monday.

In the kindergarten classrooms, there was a lot of enthusiasm and a few tears as students got a peek at what they had to look forward to.

“There’s so much toys,” remarked kindergartner Tristan Miller as he checked out the classroom books, Legos and art supplies on every cluster of desks.

Tristan is mom Jen Miller’s first child to head to kindergarten.

“It’s exiting - I’m sure I’ll be crying,” Miller said. “But it looks like a great school, and I feel really comfortable.”

Second-grade classrooms had a cute watermelon theme - classroom walls read “A Watermelon Welcome” and kids chomped on juicy watermelon slices.

The newest thing at the school this year is the way students eat lunch. Instead of eating lunch first and then going out to play, students will play first.

The practice has been used in other Solana Beach School District schools and has been very effective, Norby said. It gets the children to eat more of their lunches because they’re not in a rush to go play, she said.

It helps educationally as well - teachers don’t have to spend time dealing with playground issues in the classroom, as children will be coming in from lunch rather than play.

Norby said the budget would also be an issue for Solana Santa Fe, as with most schools in the state.

“I think it’s a challenging time for education this year,” Norby said. “But through challenging times can come really great things. When the budget’s tight, you’re forced to find better and more effective ways to do things.”