Students' first day at Aberdeen Catholic schools Wednesday signified the beginning of a time of growth, with the schools seeing an uptick in enrollment, specifically at the kingergarten level.
"There's a lot of change going on in all the buildings," Aberdeen Catholic schools president Jim Hamburge said. "We're on a roll."
Enrollment is up at the primary and elementary levels, he said. That's based on an increase he has seen in the number of kindergarten students this year coupled with more families moving to the Aberdeen area.
Roncalli Primary School has 56 kindergartners enrolled as of Wednesday, which makes it one of the largest classes in the system, he said.
A large seventh-grade class also just entered Aberdeen Roncalli Junior/Senior High School, Hamburge said.
"It's an exciting year of changes," he said. "It's a new day, a new year with new students, teachers, staff, new everything," Hamburge said.
At the primary and elementary school levels, Aberdeen Roncalli students will see new school figureheads.
At the Roncalli Primary School, Jay Lamb is beginning his first year as principal. He learned that he had gotten the job a few weeks ago after Laura Wieck, the previous principal, found out she would be moving.
"The staff is just phenomenal and helped me get everything ready," Lamb said.
The Northern State University alumnus is from Webster but is making plans to move to Aberdeen with his family. He has previously held posts in the Aberdeen Catholic School System and the Aberdeen Public School District.
He said it's been a quick transition, but Wieck has been around to help.
"I just hope to continue to do what makes Roncalli great," Lamb said.
He said he can relate to the preschoolers and kindergartners in his building when it comes to their feelings on the first day.
"It's always an exciting feeling," Lamb said. "I remember getting on the bus and waiting at the bus stop and having this feeling of nervous excitement."
Lamb said he felt some of that on Wednesday, too.
"Some students are new to the school or maybe going to school for the first time," Lamb said. "They're nervous, but their teachers want what's best for them."
Roncalli Elementary School welcomed back a familiar face in former fifth-grade teacher Todd Neuendorf. He will serve as the building's administrator.
"He will be my arms and legs in the school," Hamburge said.
Neuendorf will oversee things at the elementary school as an interim plan is implemented. Previous principal Brenda Mitzel took a job at Northern State University, Hamburge said.
Neuendorf is also Roncalli High School's head basketball coach, a position he has held since 2006.