CANTON - Students in teacher Karen Ayres' fifth grade classroom Wednesday at Canton Elementary School knew there was something different about their principal.

John Rimmer, the elementary school principal, stopped in some classrooms on the first day of school Wednesday to welcome students back to school.

"When did you grow a mustache?" one student asked.

No, Rimmer said. He didn't grow a mustache.

It had already been there.

He told the students that he just shaved off his beard.

But that wasn't the only change in the Canton Area School District this year.

Rimmer, who said the first day of school went "very, very smoothly," said there are now two lines, instead of one, in the cafeteria.

He said this has helped speed things up.

Also, he noted that grades 1-6 have a universal writing resource called "Step Up to Writing" and a new way of doing writing assessments, from Collins Writing. He said they go well together.

He thought these tools would help the students on the PSSAs.

Elementary teacher Beth Cole said the first day of school was "really good."

"The kids are really sweet," she said.

She noted the kindergarten girls attended school Wednesday, and then the boys will attend today.

Rimmer said this allows the students to learn routines, in small numbers.

Then, both boys and girls attend school on Friday.

Meanwhile, at the high school, principal Craig Coleman said the first day of school was "an excellent start."

One change this year was that the students at the high school could get breakfast, which he said hasn't been done in four years.

He said there were about a dozen students getting breakfast, but he expected that number to increase once the students become more aware of it.

Academically, he said, the goal is to continue to improve the Student Performance Profile. He said the staff will continue to work in a team approach and will focus on areas that need addressing.

He said non-core teachers would pick up the gaps that the regular core teachers aren't able to get to.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: