STAMFORD, Conn. -- Stamford first-grader Kameiya St. Juste answers quickly when asked what she likes best about school.
"I like learning," she said quietly, while her smiling principal Mark Bonasera looked on. Tuesday was the first day of classes at Julia A. Stark School as well at all the public schools across Stamford.
Bonasera was busy Tuesday as parents and staff came to him with numerous questions. With an iPad in hand, he calmly answered questions as he greeted returning students he knew by name while introducing himself to new students.
"It is an extremely exciting day for everyone," he said after all the students had gone to their classrooms. "It is a lot of fun and a little hectic. But hectic in a good way."
The school's staff and faculty worked together to ensure the first day went as seamlessly as possible, he said. He cited Assistant Principal Edith Presley and administrative intern Matthew Cerruto as just two members of the strong staff at his school.
He also said the custodial staff worked hard to ensure the school was spotless for the first day. A large summer school with about 400 students was held in the building, leaving the custodians with little time to get ready for the first day.
"The custodians did a fantastic job in getting the school ready in time," Bonasera said.
The school has about 600 students from many different ethnic backgrounds, which makes the school even stronger, Bonasera said.
"Our diversity is a real strength because the children learn from each other," he said. "We have a real family atmosphere at Stark."
Bonasera, who is entering his fourth year at the school, is hoping to see some of that spirit shared with an Australian school. While he was on vacation in that country this summer, he made contact with a school in Brisbane.
He said the education system was similar to what's here in the United States. He hopes to establish some links between Stark students and students in that school, he said, citing a video pen pal as one way that could be done.
"The similarities struck me more than the differences," he said.