OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City Public Schools welcomed thousands of students around the metro back into the classroom Thursday for the first day of school. 

“I’m excited. I’m like a kid. I look at the first day as maybe my favorite day of the school year,” said Dr. Sean McDaniel. “There’s a buzz in the air. We get our kids back with our teachers.”

Julianne Denton, the Southern Hills Elementary School Principal described the day as like “Christmas Morning.” 

The district has more than 35,000 students enrolled this year. Dr. McDaniel says it’s the third year in a row enrollment has increased. 

“We think we’re going to continue increasing,” said McDaniel. “We’ve got some appeal here. We think it’s good for kids to come to school.”

KFOR started the day at the Oklahoma City Public Schools Operations Center where the district’s 115 bus drivers were up well before the sunrise getting ready for the big day. 

The district wants to remind parents to get a notecard or piece of paper and write down their student’s name, home address, bus stop and cross street, and emergency contact and phone number and stick it in the student’s backpack. 

“Having their information on them, and that’s really, really big,” said Scott Lane, the district’s transportation director. “Just be safe, work together, act responsibly and trust the driver.”

Lane adds that OKCPS is looking for between 10 and 20 more bus drivers. According to him, the position offers great benefits and the highest driver pay in the area. 

Dr. McDaniel told KFOR as always, safety is the district’s number one priority. This year it’s ramping up a few security measures. 

“We’re introducing what’s called ‘Open Gate,’ and it’s for secondary schools and it’s really a weapons detection system that takes another step in keeping folks safe,” said Dr. McDaniel. 

KFOR then went to Southern Hills Elementary School, where parents escorted dozens of kids to their classroom.

Principal Denton says the school’s enrollment is at 100-percent.  

“Every single one of our Cardinals is enrolled and ready to go for day one,” said Denton. “I have 100% of our classroom staff, highly qualified teachers and we are just excited to dive into the 20-23, 20-24 school year.”