Cheers, applause and balloons greeted Radcliff Elementary School students Thursday as they walked down a felt red carpet on the first day of school.

More than a dozen people representing Radcliff agencies and organizations welcomed students. They were stationed at different entrances, so students arriving on buses or with their parents could share the excitement.

“That was awesome,” a parent said after walking through the cheers.

Hardin County Schools kicked off the 2018-19 academic year as 13,711 students returned to school, district spokesman John Wright said. Attendance doesn’t include preschool, which starts Aug. 22.

West Point Indepen­dent School starts Monday.

Radcliff Elementary was one of several schools that invited community members to welcome students back from summer vacation.

Radcliff Elementary Principal Jacinta Pleasant, in her first year, organized the community welcome. She started the job three weeks ago.

“We are trying to bring excitement to Radcliff Elementary School and gain more community involvement to the school,” Pleasant said.

She is one of four new principals in HCS this year. Principals at Vine Grove and Cecilia Valley elementary schools and at James T. Alton Middle School also marked their first days of school Thursday.

Pleasant said the welcome was more than she had expected.

“I am ecstatic with the number of community members that came out to support Radcliff Elementary School and welcome our students,” she said. “We have a lot of great people in our community that care about our children and the future of our community.”

Pleasant said she saw the idea on the news a few years ago and planned to do the same thing when she became a principal.

“So, today I had the opportunity,” she said.

Some students were hesitant about walking down the carpet, but Pleasant encouraged them to go for it. Some students still were waking up and taking in the scene.

Pleasant plans for greeters to return today.

North Middle School also continued its three-year tradition of having community members greet students as they got off school buses.

Athletic Director Neal Gibbs has organized the welcome.

“So the students could see that the community cares about their future and wish them a great school year,” he said.

Katherine Knott can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kknott@thenewsenterprise.com

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