FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker's primary and elementary schools welcomed students back with open arms Aug. 4 for the start of a new school year.

"The first day of school went so well," said Dr. Vicki Gilmer, Fort Rucker Elementary School principal. "We were so glad to have so many of our previous families back and had many new families join us at FRES."

Gilmer said students and teachers spent their first day back getting to know each other and learning about their routines as they settled in to their new classrooms.

At the primary school, things were going just as well, according to Dr. Deborah Deas, Fort Rucker Primary School principal, since students and teachers had the chance to get acquainted during the school's Sneak-a-Peak the day before.

"We gave students and parents the opportunity to see how the school was organized inside and see where their classes were located," said the primary school principal, adding that it was a good opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with their new teachers, and a good chance for parents to get any information they needed.

It wasn't just school staff members who were happy to see the children back in school, though. Parents were also thrilled to see their children take their place in the next grade.

"This time of year is always so exciting for my children," said Jody Sawyer, military spouse and mother of two. "They always get so excited to get their new school supplies and they're always so eager to get them out to use them. It makes me happy to see when they're actually happy to go back to school."

Although Sawyer said it was quite a feat to get them back into the routine of getting back into the swing of their school schedule, she was happy to see them enthusiastic to learn.

"It's great having them back in school because throughout the summer it's so hard to keep children occupied, especially while trying not to get them too much out of the routine," she said. "Of course, summertime is all about playing and being out of school, but you don't want them to completely forget what they've learned throughout the year, so we tried to keep their minds ripe by talking about what they would be excited to learn the next year and things like that. I think that's very important."

For Sammy Jones, military spouse, whose daughter, Julia, attends FRES, the first day of school can be a somber moment.

"I love having Julia throughout the summer to spend with me and it can always be a little sad to see them go back to school," she said. "You get used to having them around for a bit and then they have to go back, but I know that they're just going to get a great education, so it makes me glad to know they're in good hands."

Keeping that education great is a key focus, said Gilmer.

"We are always focused on highest student achievement and our scores reflect that," said the FRES principal. "However, this year we are adding a few new features."

Students will be able to participate in Teambuilding Fridays where they will be able to get with special area teachers to participate in different activities that will promote problem solving, creativity, communication, collaboration, social skills and more, said Gilmer.

"Students will not only have a blast, but they will also learn how to build valuable people skills," she said. "We are proud to serve America's best, and we continue to grow and strengthen our support of our military families."

That learning experience also extends to the primary school, where Deas said the goal for the new year is to continue to excel in reading, where FRPS was ranked No. 1 on the Reading Performance of Students in Department of Defense Education Activity grades kindergarten through third.

"We are also excited about the second year adoption of College and Career Readiness Standards for Math, and look forward to honing our skills during the continued rollout of the math materials," said the FRPS principal.

With all of the right tools in place, both principals predicted an outstanding year for the students on Fort Rucker.