Aleah Odom said she was nervous Monday morning to walk into Spring Hill Primary School, but she was excited to make new friends on the first day of school.

“I’ve never been here before,” the kindergartner said.

Aleah is among thousands of students starting school across East Texas this month, with Henderson, White Oak and Gladewater school districts, for instance, welcoming students back about the middle of this past week. Spring Hill, Pine Tree and Kilgore schools were among districts that returned to class Monday. Hallsville students go back to school on Wednesday, while Longview and Gilmer school districts will start the school year Aug. 27.

Before the morning announcements Monday at Spring Hill Primary School, Aleah’s mom, Kara Odom, tied her daughter’s light-up sneakers. Aleah frowned slightly, but her smile returned after she exchanged goodbyes with her parents and older sister.

She mingled with girls around her, complimenting them on their backpacks and shoes. Hugging a classmate she just met, Aleah said, “You’re my friend already.”

It was hard for Carissa Welch to leave her son Carter because “he’s the last one,” she said. Welch said her son was most excited about lunchtime.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been at this school ... but I’m excited,” Welch said through tears.

Carter embraced his mom and said, “I’m scared.”

Aleah’s mother said that her daughter has been talking about the first day of school all summer long. Unlike other families, the two didn’t tear up when they said goodbye.

“She said a couple times this morning, ... ‘Mama, I’m nervous. I’m scared.’ She’s fine,” Odom said. “Mama’s happy. I get the whole day to myself.”