One by one, each school district in the Santa Clarita Valley is welcoming students back after a very eventful summer. While the gloomy weather on Thursday may have deceived residents into thinking this was the first day back from winter break, it was still the Newhall School District’s and Sulphur Springs Union School District’s turn to start the year.
Parents reflected Thursday on the ambitions of their kids throughout the summer, along with the extracurriculars that have fueled their love for exploration.
Jonathan Waymire’s son, Anderson, began his first day of fifth grade Thursday.. The 10-year-old has been attending Meadows Elementary for his entire elementary career, but has found other hobbies to invest in during summer break.
“[Anderson] spent the summer mainly golfing. He’s a really competitive junior golfer, and loved practicing every day,” Waymire said. “He definitely wants to move up in golf — into the next league. He’s excited to be back at Meadows, but I would definitely say that his main goal and ambition is golf right now.”
Regardless of the skills he picked up along the way, Anderson is fond of the memories he has created at Meadows with his friends.
“He has a few buddies that he’s really excited to see again,” Waymire said. “He’s developed a couple of friendships with a boy named Nicholas and a boy named Jackson. The three of them do everything together: They go over to each other’s houses, they go to Hurricane Harbor, they do all kinds of fun stuff together.”
The Howell family moved to Santa Clarita in October from Burbank. Utilizing the summer to explore the valley’s resources, Valerie Howell discussed her 10-year-old’s love for swimming.
“We’re new additions to Santa Clarita, and Lucas spent the summer doing the swim team through the parks, which was a great experience. He’s a swimmer; it’s the one sport that has stuck, so we’ll see how that goes,” Howell said. “He had a great time over the summer. The coaches were great, so that was the highlight of the summer basically. He qualified for the regional championship called SCMAF: We’re [going to] do that on Saturday.”
No easy feat, Lucas participated in the swim team four times a week, and his hard work evidently paid off: “This championship is once, and only the top two scorers in each stroke qualified,” Howell said.
Swimming is not the fifth grader’s only passion.
“He attends the YMCA [at Meadows] and it’s a great after-school program. Through that, they taught him about Dungeons and Dragons. Now he’s [got a love for it], so he’s [going to] help DM (Dungeon Master) the Dungeons and Dragons game at the YMCA.”
Leo Depaco, 11, is the youngest sibling of three older sisters: His mother, Stephanie Smith, discussed her sixth grader’s preparation for his last year in elementary school.
“He’s looking forward to junior high but this morning it was exciting to get him up, get him ready. It’s his last year — it’s a big deal,” Smith said. “He was excited to see his friends. He has the same friends that he’s had since kindergarten. So it’s really sweet.”
Summer entailed dedicating his time to his sport: football.
“He plays football — tackle football practice was every single day in the summer. We dedicated [the summer] to football because it was two-hour practices every day.”
While Smith is excited for the year her youngest will have, she also can’t help but feel bittersweet regarding the subtle changes.
“I have a friend that I used to work with, so our kids kind of grew up together. Every year we take a picture, so today she was like, ‘This is his last,’ because [Depaco] is one year [older]. So it was really, really sad.”