ALBANY, Ga. -- Most of the children in Vieliene Jones' kindergarten class at Jackson Heights Elementary School seemed at ease and played nicely together Monday morning.
Early on their first day of school, the students learned about staying in line with their hands behind their backs and verified what color shirt they were wearing.
"Are you ready for kindergarten?" Jones asked.
"Yes," the students responded in unison.
"Are you ready to learn?" Jones said.
Again, the students responded in the affirmative.
"I am excited," Jones said of starting the new school year, which the Dougherty County School System ushered in Monday. The Albany district dates back to at least 1885.
"Everything is going so smoothly," said Jones, a 22-year educator. "The children recognize the colors, come in recognizing their names when they see it and are excited to be here. Everyone is getting along."
As the first day was getting under way, Jones was getting to know her students and expecting more to be arriving soon. At 8:22 a.m., Jones had 11 of the 20 students scheduled to be in her class.
Kindergartner MaKalah Jones was enjoying her first day of school.
"I like my school and Ms. (Jones)," MaKalah said.
Classmate ShyKeria King agreed.
"It's fun and (I like) my teacher," the 5-year-old said.
Monica Jones, the 33-year-old sister to her mother's young foster children, anticipated that Benjamin, 5, and Samayiah, 6, were happy that school was back in session.
"They miss their friends, and it gives them structure for their day," Jones said.
DCSS Public Information Director R.D. Harter said the district's first day went smoothly for its about 16,000 students and 2,500 personnel. The Aug. 2 start date was three days earlier than last year's opening date, and it's believed to be the earliest the school system has started in its history.
"This morning's opening of the 2011 school year was managed smoothly, according to principals I've spoken with," Harter said. "We have had fewer calls compared to last year from parents seeking information about buses and schools. The open houses held (Sunday) throughout our system may have helped alleviate the need to seek last-minute information.
"We are looking forward to a very successful year. Our teachers and leadership are dedicated to student success."