NEWBERRY SPRINGS • It is a new school year for fourth grade teacher Sheril Helms, but in many ways, it's going to look the same as last year.

That's because Helms, who taught third-graders at Newberry Springs Elementary School last year, is the first teacher at the elementary school to move up a grade level and continue to teach the same group of students as school begins for the Silver Valley Unified School District on Thursday.

One of those students is Lydia Liu, who said she's excited to have Helms as a teacher again.

"I feel very happy because she's a really good teacher," said the eight-year-old Newberry Springs resident.

Liu will be among the approximately 2,500 students in SVUSD heading back to school, according to Assistant Superintendent of Administration Aaron Haughton. This is the first year the district has decided to hold the first day of classes on a Thursday — instead of a Monday — which will allow both students and staff to have a break after the first two days and ease into the year, said Newberry Springs Elementary School Principal Sandra Schmitt.

With her group of kids, Helms said she's looking forward to hitting the ground running this year — picking up where they left off last year.

"I can start there instead of at the beginning," said Helms.

"I think I'm looking forward to challenging them more — to see how far I can take them," she said.

Robin Acosta, a combined second and third grade independent study group teacher, said the first day is as much about getting to know your new students as seeing your old students and catching up with them when they visit and peek into their old classrooms to visit.

"They love to come back," Acosta said. "They're always surprised when [it looks] different."

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(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com