A light rain fell and fog enveloped much of Westport early Tuesday morning as children got ready for the first day of a new academic year.
Oblivious to all that a new school means to the town's nearly 6,000 students, a couple of deer wandered across Roseville Road within sight of a bus stop at the corner of Roseville and Pine Tree Drive. Scott Adler, a Bedford Middle School eighth-grader who will celebrate his 13th birthday on Sept. 8, wondered if the deer were heading to his backyard.
Neighbor Ella Bloomingdale, 10, had more pressing things on her mind. As she waited for the bus Ella said she was "excited, but kind of nervous" about school. She was concerned about getting lost in the hallways of her new school -- she is a sixth-grader at Bedford Middle School this year, and was uncertain about the amount of school and homework she'll have to do.
Scott tried to allay her fears. "Sixth grade is awesome," he told her, and he explained the layout of the school. They had plenty of time to talk. Their bus was scheduled to arrive at 7:24 a.m., but it was about 10 minutes late.
Parents said the buses did do a test run before the first day, but expected there were bound to be some delays. Most buses were on time, according to unofficial reports. At least one was early, leaving one mother to drive her son to school.
Matthew Rowan, 12, a seventh-grader at Bedford Middle School, was also worried about "all that work," as he stood in the driveway of his family's Bayberry Lane house waiting for the bus to arrive. He reflected on the summer vacation, which included a trip to Williamsport, Pa., to watch the Westport Little League baseball team, among them some of his classmates, play in the World Series. Eight of the 11 team members go to Bedford Middle School, where 862 students were reporting to classes Tuesday.
Principal Adam Rosen said he also traveled to Williamsport this month. "Once I knew my kids were in (the World Series) I got in my car and went to Williamsport," he said.
Matthew's sister Amanda, 9, a fourth-grader at Long Lots School who attended one of the World Series games, said she was ready to go back to school "because there's nothing else to do ... I want to go back to school but I don't. I'm excited to see people at school."
Despite the rain -- which eventually gave way to blue sky and bright sun -- Anna Messenger and the family dog, Milo, walked her two children to Long Lots Middle School. "It was a great summer. It's never long enough but it felt like the right time to come back (to school)," she said. "Mostly, it's a happy, exciting morning," she said.
The Gay family -- dad Willis; mom Zandra; Lexi, 7; Reese, 4, and Carter, 8 -- walked to the bus stop on Bayberry Lane near their Jennings Court home.
"We have all three, for the first time, going on the same bus to the same school (Long Lots Elementary)," Zandra said. Carter is in 3rd grade, Lexi is a 2nd grader and Reese, who shares Scott Adler's birthday and will be five on Sept. 8, was attending her first day of Kindergarten on Tuesday.
Parents and children shared details of summer vacations and talked about the coming school year.
"I enjoyed the summer but I get to see all my friends in school," Scott said.
"What's sad, when I was a kid school never started before Labor Day. There shouldn't be school in August," said Allison Adler, Scott's mother. "It's bittersweet that summer's ending, but I can focus on my work," she said.
Bittersweet was a frequently used word by many parents Tuesday morning, all of whom seemed to echo what Allison Adler said. "I'll miss them but I'll be able to get some work done," said Ariana Napier, who waited at the bus stop with her daughters Ella Alpert, 9, and Zoe Alpert, 6.
"It's liberating," another mom said.
"It'll be nice to get things done but it'll be fun when they get off the bus to enjoy afternoons and weekends," said Jenna Jacobs-Dick, who waited at the corner of Hazelnut Road and North Avenue with her children -- Brenner Dick, 8, a third-grader at Coleytown Elementary, and Westley Dick, 6, a 1st grader at the same school.
Mike Alpert, Ella and Zoe's father, stood among the half dozen parents at Bayberry and Jennings Court waving as the bus continued on its way. "They're growing up too quickly," he said.
Police were out in force stopping speeders and sitting unobtrusively in school parking lots in unmarked vehicles.