The halls of Culler Middle School are unfamiliar to sixth-grader Ayana Canby, who says she worries she'll forget her locker number combination or where her classes are Monday — the first day of school.
It's scary to start middle school, she said.
"It's weird, because it feels like things get harder in middle school," she said. "Everything in elementary school is simple, but now it's kind of like starting all over again."
Ayana's aunt, Shala, said the school's orientation helped calm Ayana's nerves because she was able to prepare for the school year with a visit, which allowed her to try out her new locker.
The best way to help students on the first day of school is to reassure them confidently and tell them they are loved, said Lincoln Public Schools counseling and social work supervisor Brenda Leggiadro.
Shala keeps reassuring her niece, but hides her own nervousness — middle school is a big adjustment.
"I don't know who's more nervous — her or me," Shala said.
To ease the adjustment period between summer and school, Leggiadro has a few tips:
Set a bedtime that allows plenty of rest, plan outfits ahead of time, have materials organized and ready, and practice school routines.
"Practice the route to and from school — remember to allow extra time on Monday since there will be more people," she said.
Supply lists were mailed out to families, but are also often available in school supply aisles of stores.
Imaniji Robinson brought her 6-year-old brother, Jessiah Lame, to Antelope Park on Saturday to pick out a new backpack and fill it with school supplies at an event hosted by LPS' Indian Education and Native American Advisory Committee.
Organizer Kris Ross said the event gives families the chance to meet each other and talk with Ross and other LPS staff to help address their needs. The school supplies given away allow families to save money for other things, she said.
Nearly 200 families showed up to sort through the stacks of backpacks and fill them with colored pencils, crayons and notebooks.
For Jessiah, the dark-green backpack made him more excited to start school.
The first-grader can't wait for math class. He wants to work with numbers when he grows up, he said.
It'll be his first year at Hartley Elementary School, but he isn't nervous — he's looking forward to meeting new friends.
For families that could use assistance filling up backpacks and getting the necessary supplies, several events Sunday aim to help students feel good about going back to school.
Staff at the Oasis Barber Shop, 2709 O St., will provide free haircuts, backpacks and school supplies from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
At the Powder Room Parlor, 246 S. 16th St., students can get a free haircut and book from noon to 6 p.m.
Leggiadro said the district looks forward to implementing the new Second Step curriculum for students from preschool to seventh grade.
"Second Step supports students' development of skills that are important for success, such as learning to focus their attention, control their emotions, get along with other people, and solve problems," she said.