By DEVIN WEEKS
COEUR d’ALENE — Sunlight just began to peek over Best Mountain and spill onto the rooftops of Coeur d'Alene as Miranda Maynard prepared for the big day.
Her little sister, Maya, 8, sleepily observed from the couch as Miranda moved through the house. She downed a quick breakfast, zipped up her backpack and put the finishing touches on her outfit as her dad, Darrin, gave her a light razzing about her fashion choices, as dads do.
"You might want to wear pants that don’t have like, holes and are all worn out,” he chided.
"Oh, Dad,” Miranda's mom, Tomi, responded with a trademark knowing-mom look.
Unfazed and collected, Miranda smiled as she checked off all her lists before heading out the door for her first day of high school.
"I think that ninth grade is going to be fun, starting at a new school with new classes and teachers," said Miranda, 14. "There are also a lot of different opportunities that I think will be really cool."
Miranda is the first Maynard child to actually be sent to school on the first day of ninth grade. Her older brother, Gabe, was enrolled in online classes his freshman year.
"We’re excited," Tomi said. "We got to go to the open house and got to meet all of her teachers and they all seem really nice. Some of them were teachers that I had in high school."
“It was really hard to fall asleep (last night) because I was so excited," Miranda said.
More than 11,000 students in the Coeur d'Alene School District returned to their school routines on Tuesday.
Miranda, fresh out of Lakes Middle School and filled with the summer experiences of an eighth grade trip to New York and Washington, D.C., was confident as she hugged her dad goodbye in front of Lake City High School and made a beeline for the gym to pick up her official schedule.
"The subject that I am most looking forward to would probably be Latin because it's something that I've never taken before, and I am really excited about trying it," Miranda said.
LCHS was abuzz with back-to-school energy as friends reunited, teachers welcomed students back and kids zoomed through the hallways to find their lockers and classrooms.
"You’re always nervous," Darrin said. "You go to a new school, there’s all these things that you don’t know. That first week, I’m sure, is going to be fun."
Ninth grade is the gateway to independence. Once in high school, many students become more serious about driving, working, going to college and making the most of their academic lives.
Miranda is already thinking about what she wants to be when she graduates. She loves working with animals, so she may follow a veterinary career path.
But this week, she's freshman focused.
"I am really nervous about the change, but at the same time I'm super excited because it's something new than what I'm used to," Miranda said. "I'm most excited about the new enviroment and the memories that I will make with my friends and having so many new opportunities."