Whether students were heading to school for the first time or catching up with old friends after a few months apart, the excitement of a new school year was felt across Kern County on Wednesday.

Several school districts welcomed back hundreds of students through their doors, ready for another year of hard work, academic success and fun times.

Students started pouring into Liberty High School at 7:45 a.m. where many were hanging out with friends before the first-period bell rang.

"I'm excited for this year because I'm a sophomore and last year was a little intimidating as a freshman," said Madison Kline. "I know the campus a little bit better, and we're doing 'Another Brick in the Wall' for marching band so I'm looking forward to that."

Though many freshmen are nervous about beginning high school surrounded by new people, Jasmine Pinto said she didn't feel any jitters.

"I'm looking forward to my classes," she said, explaining she will be taking health, algebra and physical education this year.

Her mother, Christina Pallares, said this is her third child to start high school so she knows exactly how to prepare for the upcoming year.

"It's a stressful time, but we're thankful," she said. "I want them to have a good school year."

Others still get those butterflies in their stomachs even though they are returning students.

"I guess I'm looking forward to classes, to see how it is," said sophomore Jazmine Soulas. "I'm excited for biology."

Students at Panama Elementary, sporting new backpacks and carrying packed lunchboxes, excitedly walked into the school's gymnasium Wednesday.

Some were anxious about seeing their friends, while others were ready to hit the ground running in the classroom.

Students who were dropped off by their parents were first told "happy first day of school" by Doris the crossing guard, who assured them they were safe crossing Stine Road.

"Students, please wait to cross until you hear my whistle," she said.

Fourth grader Manny Marcos, 9, said he's excited to start the new school year and show off his Fortnite backpack to friends.

"My favorite subject in school is science," he said. "I want to learn about dinosaurs and the planets this year."

Marcos' friend, Daniella Smith, 10, was excited to read more books this academic year.

"I want to read all the 'Harry Potter' books, but I heard from someone that we read 'James and the Giant Peach,'" Smith said as she swung around her "no drama llama" purple lunchbox. "I'll probably read them anyways."

Smith said she's sad summer is over, but is excited to start school again.

"It's going to be so fun I think," she said. "I can't wait to see my friends every day."

At Wayside Elementary, kids started arriving for class at 7:20 a.m., a full hour before classes were scheduled to begin. Once they entered the school, it allowed parents to get a reprieve.

"Heck yeah! Now my vacation can start!" Elizabeth Sanchez exclaimed jokingly, moments after dropping off her two children.

Also, at West High School, a brief lockout ensued after law enforcement activity was present in a neighborhood near the school around 10 a.m. It was lifted shortly after.

The Californian's Alex Horvath contributed to this report. Ema Sasic can be reached at esasic@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7392. Maureen Strode can be reached at mstrode@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7491.

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