Students arriving to start the new school year Monday at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in the San Antonio Independent School District got a Hollywood welcome.
Staff members, some dressed in formal gowns and glitter, rolled out a makeshift red carpet along the sidewalk leading to the front doors.
Some tossed confetti at the arriving students, while the school’s principal, Eduardo Davila, “interviewed” them.
“How are you today? Are you ready to start school?” Davila asked one boy, as he arrived for his first day of first grade.
For Avalon Munoz, who is beginning fifth grade, the fun-filled fanfare came as a bit of a shock.
“It's a big surprise to have, at least, a part of a red carpet here at our school,” Munoz said. She grinned as she took in the unusual sights -- images of teachers dressed as if they were attending a Hollywood premiere.
Her sister, Trista, though, was more focused on what awaited her in her classroom.
"It's going to be a lot of new stuff, so it's going to be exciting,” she said.
Third-grader Ethan Gonzales, meanwhile, was underwhelmed by all the hoopla. He would’ve preferred a few more weeks of summer vacation, but his parents said they had been waiting for this day all summer long.
The Hollywood glitz and glamour, they said, made the day even more special.
“ I love that the theme is stars,” said Christina Gonzales. “They've got the red carpet and the teachers are all dressed up. This is a great way to start school."
Davila said the idea of rolling out the red carpet for his “stars” is part of a carefully calculated theme meant to prepare students for the upcoming STAAR, or State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, tests.
The standardized exams, given at certain grade levels each school year, measure a student’s aptitude in subjects such as reading and math.
There will be a heavy emphasis this year, Davila said, on improving students’ skills and test scores.
"It is important. (Not getting) an education is not an option anymore,” Davila said. “So we're going to make sure that every student at Franklin Elementary is college ready."