Summer over, thousands return to school

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat /

About 10,000 students were in class as of Wednesday - the first day of school for most Mother Lode schools - and Sonora Elementary upper-grade teachers enjoyed their newly renovated classrooms.

All of Tuolumne County's state-funded public schools started Wednesday and so did eastern Calaveras County students, following western Calaveras Unified School District's opening in late July.

Sonora Elementary first-grader Taylor Lowry said she had a good first day, meeting some new friends and learning about science and foreign languages.

The first day back was particularly nice for seventh- and eighth-grade classes at Sonora Elementary School, who returned to renovated classrooms for the first time after their classrooms were damaged by November's arson fire.

"It was awesome," eighth-grade humanities teacher Michele Cowden Applebee said of teaching in the new classroom. "This was part of the excitement," she said of the buzz of her class earlier in the day.

"It's the silver lining," said Jim Edwards, eighth-grade science, technology, engineering and math teacher. "I think these eighth graders now think they're going to go out on a high note."

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