Lakewood students return to school

LAKEWOOD — Students made their way by bus, by car or just hand-in-hand with parents as classes began Sept. 1 at schools throughout the Lakewood School District, including Cougar Creek Elementary.

Although there were a few tears, there was also a lot of anticipation by both students and teachers for the upcoming school year.

Six-year-old Chelsea Orr showed up with her mom on her first day of second grade at Cougar Creek, while her younger brother, a year out from kindergarten, joined in the big day. After spending much of the summer with her family, Chelsea was looking forward to reuniting with old classmates.

“I can’t wait to see my friends,” she said. “I get to see most of them today.”

Down the hall from where Orr stood waiting to go to her classroom, Principal Priscilla Brady also nursed some excited feelings even after 20 years of first days of school.

“As all of us go through our careers, we get more confident,” she said. “But what’s still there is the anticipation to affect kids’ lives.”

Brady was a principal at English Crossing before opening Cougar Creek Elementary seven years ago. Before that, she taught special education in the Marysville School District. After nine years in the Lakewood district, Brady recently saw her first class of Lakewood students graduate from high school last spring. Year after year, she said, the high school and middle school students come back to Cougar Creek, volunteering in the classrooms.

A small, relatively rural school district with three elementary schools, Brady hinted that in addition to the academic and extracurricular offerings — like her school’s walking club and academic nights that bring parents into the classroom — the unique setting gives the Lakewood schools an emotional advantage.

“I think the special part of Lakewood is we don’t have a town. We draw from Marysville, Arlington and Stanwood,” she said. “The school is the center of the community.”

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