St. Andrew Catholic School welcomed back students on Monday, kicking off the new year.
From kindergarten to eighth grade, approximately 300 children total are enrolled for the 2013-14 school year. Principal David Perry noted that the school's enrollment is up from previous years.
"We added a number of students, which is a good sign," he said. "We've grown this year."
Gianna Bestard, 3, spends a few moments with her mom, Meredith Fay-Hamilton, before her first day of school Monday at St. Andrew Catholic School.
One of the big changes this year is St. Andrew has added another kindergarten class.
"We've gone back to two kindergarten classes," Perry said.
Each class will have about 16 students, rather than one big group of 30.
Jeannie Nora is the new kindergarten teacher.
The school also has a new middle school science teacher, Mary Trujillo.
Over the summer, St. Andrew installed a new playground for pre-kindergartners.
"We were able to install the new system," he said. "Which is exciting for our little guys and girls."
The new area is an addition to the existing playground for the older students.
"It was the result of the fund-raising efforts of our parents," Perry said.
Last year was Perry's first year as principal of St. Andrew.
"It felt great to be back and to recognize a lot of the faces," he said of Monday.
"It felt good to be greeting them at the front door with smiles and high fives," Perry said.
The first day went smoothly for both faculty and students. Perry attributed it to planning over the summer break by staffers and the children simply being familiar with the school through the church.
"We have a lot of kids who have grown up at St. Andrew. We have a lot of siblings," he said.
"That's the nice thing about our school," Perry said. "It's a big family."
Monday ended on a high note with surprise visits from a former teacher and the original principal.
"The year started really positive," he said.
On Monday, Perry watched students get dropped off and even posed for some family photos.
"For me, the highlight really was standing in the morning car line," he said.
"It was just a really good vibe," Perry added.
For many faculty, summertime meant a lot of preparing for the new school year.
"Teachers don't get the summer off, really," he said. "Even though they may not be here at school, they're always planning."
Faculty prepares by reviewing the set curriculum and reflecting on the prior year.
"When you take the time to really plan, you can ensure for a smooth opening, and that's what everybody at the school did," Perry said.
St. Andrew aims to prepare its students on many levels, including spiritually and socially.
"We're not only challenged to prepare our children academically," he said.
Families interested in enrolling at the school are welcome to call and set up a tour.
"St. Andrew is a real gem here in Cape Coral," Perry said.
St. Andrew Catholic School is at 1509 S.E. 27th St.
For information, call (239) 772-3922 or visit: www.standrewcs.org/.