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Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS Third graders Olivia Rosenthal, Dakota Olson, Eva Vorderbruggen and Trenton Lee, left to right, were hanging around on Tuesday morning, making good use of the playground while waiting for the first day of school to start at Heart of the Lakes Elementary. Kids across Perham appeared to be excited for the new school year, and almost all the schools reported higher enrollment numbers than last year.

A swingin’ start to the new school year

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Kids and parents crowded around Perham schools Tuesday morning, as the bells rang for the first time this year.

That excited ‘back-to-school’ feeling was in the air, with most kids trucking into the hallways with smiles on their faces. Some anxious, near-tears kindergarteners worrying that “I don’t know where to go” were quickly calmed by paraprofessionals who stood watch outside.

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Administrators had reason to be happy, as well. Almost all of Perham’s public and parochial schools reported strong enrollment numbers this year, compared to last year.

At Heart of the Lakes Elementary School, 462 students were signed up for the first day of class; a jump from last year’s 442. The increase includes newly added sections of kindergarten and first grade.

Perham’s parochial school enrollment has also gone up.

St. Henry’s Area Catholic School began the year with 104 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, said Principal Jason Smith, an increase of nine children.

At St. Paul’s Lutheran School, there was a first-day enrollment of 70 students. Last year ended with a total of 64 students.

Prairie Wind Middle School was the only building that experienced a slight drop in numbers. The middle school had 416 pupils in May, and now has 403 enrolled.

Perham High School gained 26 students, resulting in a first-day total of 477.

Overall, the Perham-Dent School District began this year with a body of 1,342 enrolled students, compared to 1,309 at the end of last school year.

These numbers are likely to change throughout the year as families move into or out of the district and students transfer, according to Perham-Dent Superintendent Mitch Anderson.

Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS

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