The sights, sounds and signs of the first day of school were all too familiar.
From the squeak-squeak pitter-patter of brand new shoes on shiny floors to the backpacks, notebooks and pencils sharpened just so, at D.H. Stanton Elementary in Peoplestown.
There were the happy reunions of classmates ready to tackle another school year and hands waving high and feverishly in the air by pupils eager to answer teacher's question.
For some of the littlest ones, there was the shedding of some tears on this, their first day of many being spent away from Mom.
But the start of this school year at Stanton is marked by a promise that principal Clara Taylor received from each and every teacher and staff member about their commitment to the school, parents, community, and most of all the students.
That promise, encompassed in sign hanging at the school's main entrance simply states: "Failure Is Not An Option." Surrounding it, the handprints of every teacher and staff member, pledging to make it more than a slogan, but a commitment they will live by each and every school day.
Just a scant few months ago, the school was in danger of closing in a district wide realignment of schools.
Successfully dodging that bullet, Taylor and a core group of Stanton supporters spent the summer collaborating on what the school needed to do to lay the groundwork for building and boosting academic achievement.
About half the staff attended "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" seminars, Taylor said. But her blueprint for improving the school isn't just building leadership of staff, but the leadership skills of students, too.
Stanton aims to do that through the "Leader In Me" program, which focuses on building skills that not only make students better leaders as adults, but also to become successful academically as students.
The long-term goal: make Stanton a school of choice, Taylor said.
"My hopes are that D.H. Stanton will be the school that people would choose to want to come to," Taylor said. "We want people to look over here and see what we're doing and see the great things that we're doing and decide, 'I want my child to come to D.H. Stanton.' "