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Back to school Monday in Santa Maria

It’s a back to school Monday for students in the Santa Maria Bonita Unified School District as the largest school district on the Central Coast begins the school year in the second week of August.

More than 16,000 students in the SMBUSD are making their way back to campus for the start of the school year at 20 school sites in the district that have been spruced up over the summer.

Various events are planned to welcome the students back including:

-At Ontiveros School, arriving students will be welcomed Monday morning with bubbles and music, including an inspirational song by one of the 6th grade teachers, Monica Jensen. Jensen wrote a song called “Puzzle Piece.” She shared it with rapper/motivational speaker Blake Brandes last school year when he was at Ontiveros for a student assembly. Brandes liked it and worked with Jensen to record it. Jensen does the singing parts of the song and Brandes raps. Superintendent Luke Ontiveros will also be at Ontiveros School welcoming staff, students and families. School starts at 8 a.m.

-At Jimenez Elementary School, parents and guardians are invited to “Muffins and Mingle” from 8 to 9 a.m. on August 13 at the school’s playground and courtyard. Balloons and welcome signs will greet the students and their families. Parents will have a chance to socialize with teachers and each other while enjoying coffee and muffins. “We are one unit here to support students,” explained principal Richard Ruiz. “Muffins and Mingle starts us off with a feeling of togetherness so we can move forward as a unit.” He added that the social time will help adults get to know each other and start working with other parents from their child’s classroom. The families will also join the students for the flag salute on the playground blacktop.

Instead of beginning the morning in an unfamiliar classroom with a new teacher, from 8 to 9 a.m. Jimenez students will have the opportunity to start the first day of school by playing with their friends from last year or meeting new friends on the playground. “The goal is to help students have less anxiety about the first day of school,” said assistant principal Shandee Bayne. “We want to relieve any stress they may be feeling – both the students and their parents.”

Santa Maria Police will have a stepped up presence Monday morning in school zones enforcing speed limits and other traffic safety laws.

With school buses back on the road and students flocking to pedestrian street crossings, motorists need to be aware and prepare for traffic congestion and perhaps a longer morning commute.

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