It's been 17 years since April Macias became a grade-school teacher, but she still feels the rush of excitement the night before the first day of school.
"The night before I can't sleep because I'm just so excited," Macias said. "I just want to make sure that the first day runs as smooth as possible."
Unfortunately, anonymous threats made against four Socorro Independent School District campuses marred the first day of school for students and educators.
The threats were made against Ben Narbuth Elementary School, Montwood High School, William D. Slider Middle School and Eastlake High School.
A district spokesperson said: "We had an anonymous threat on four schools. There was no evidence of a viable threat to the schools.”
Included was a message sent to the Narbuth school community from Principal Fernie Miranda.
It said: “Hi, this is Fernie Miranda, principal of Ben Narbuth elementary School. I am calling to inform you that we received information of a possible threat to Ben Narbuth School that was shared on social media. We have shared the information with authorities and are investigating the anonymous post."
His message added, "As a precaution, our police are continuing their investigation and will assign additional offices to the campus for the day. Classes and all activities are continuing as scheduled. Thank you for your continued trust and support of Ben Narbuth School and Socorro ISD.”
Earlier Monday morning, Miranda was "pumped" as he welcomed hundreds of students to the new elementary school at 12901 Bob Hope Drive.
The school is one half of a $60 million combination school that will include Eastlake Middle School, which is set to open July 2023, in the 2023-24 school year.
Miranda was looking forward to giving his students at Narbuth the opportunity to excel.
"It's really about high expectations and making sure that we have those systems in place that are going to share student success, whether it's academic, social, emotional, and my responsibility is to grow my own team," Miranda said, "to ensure that whatever it is that they want to accomplish, that I'm able to support and facilitate those needs."
After the summer break, students and parents marked the first day of school Monday at the SISD, the El Paso Independent School District and the Ysleta ISD.
The Clint Independent School District started instruction late last month.
At Narbuth, young students wearing new back-to-school outfits in their school colors, blue and gold, filled the halls. Teachers greeted them with big smiles and full breakfasts to start their day.
Starting school for the first time, pre-K and kindergarteners anxiously looked to their parents for comfort while entering their classrooms. Parents reassured their children with tight hugs and pep talks as teachers helped them find their seats.
Before leaving, many parents gave their children a bendicion, or blessing, a practice among Catholics to give protection to a loved one.
Elizabeth Tarango, a mother and school nurse at Narbuth, said she is excited for her kindergartener daughter Miranda Tarango to start learning.
"I'm ready to help all the students if they need anything regarding whatever's going on with their health," Tarango said. "I'm here to help them."
SISD Superintendent Nate Carman said he is confident students and parents are in good hands with principal Miranda and the Narbuth staff as they begin building school pride. The school, home to the Jackrabbits, is selling T-shirts with the motto, "Fear the ears."
"We think that he (Miranda) can lead this campus to be successful beginning with Year One. The campus as a whole, it has a combination of veteran teachers from Socorro ISD and some that are new to the district," Carman said. "So, we feel like they are well-trained, well-prepared and students will be well-received."
Macias, a first-grade teacher, hopes her students will grow academically this school year.
"I just want to make it enjoyable for the kids and they want to come back," Macias said. "I'm going to work extremely hard to get my Jackrabbits where they need to be."
Narbuth can serve up to 800 elementary students, from pre-K 3-year-olds to fifth-graders.
The new school has an amphitheater and collaborative learning areas for students. The campus has a modern design with a large gymnasium. Miranda called his new school "state-of-the-art," with learning features found in newer middle and high schools.
"The excitement comes from the faces of the students and watching them come into their class, meeting their teacher and starting to build those relationships," Miranda said.
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Threats against 4 SISD campuses mar first day of school in El Paso