Visalia Unified heads back to school

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's back to school for a big South Valley district. Thursday morning thousands of kids are returning to class at Visalia Unified.

It's a big day for 4-year-old Mikey Padilla. He's starting kindergarten at his new school, Riverway Elementary in Visalia. He wants to make a good impression, so he brought a gift-- an apple.

For his dad Michael Padilla SR. it's bittersweet. He's excited for his son to learn, but he's little sad his only child is growing up.

"I've always pictured him walking down and just taking him to his teacher and all and it's a pretty cool thing."

As Mikey and his dad nervously walk towards class they're joining more than 29,000 students across the Visalia Unified School District who are headed to one of 40 schools. Each one excited about something different.

Silver Valles, who is starting Second Grade, said, "Recess and food."

They have even more to look forward to across the district. This year some older schools were modernized, a new elementary school is under construction, and they have a new safety campaign.

Visalia Unified's Superintendent Todd Oto said, "We have a social media campaign going on in conjunction with the Visalia Police Department about the threats of prank social media posts."

They are also refreshing their message on inclusiveness, creating a welcoming environment on day one and helping ease Mikey and his dad's nerves.

Riverway Elementary Principal Monica Saenz said, "We love diversity, we love to make sure that everybody feels welcome, and we are definitely here with open arms."

The time has finally come-- Mikey is meeting his new teacher. He hands her the apple. And off he goes on his first day of school.
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It's back to school for a big South Valley district.

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