Students set off balloons to celebrate the new school year

Friday, August 24, 2012 | 6:58 p.m. CDT; updated 8:20 a.m. CDT, Saturday, August 25, 2012
Columbia Independent School celebrated the start of school by releasing balloons. The tradition, which dates back to the school's opening in 1998, gives each student a balloon to release.

COLUMBIA — Before the sky filled with blue and gold balloons at Columbia Independent School, a few stray balloons floated up into the sky.

Seniors held the hands of younger students and tried to make sure they did not release their balloons before the countdown. It's a big task in a crowd of excited students.

Each year, the school's students release balloons to mark the beginning of the school year. The ritual is part of a tradition that dates back to 1998, when the school was first opened. On Friday morning, the students released a sea of 346 blue and gold balloons.

The balloon launch is an "iconic" event at the school, Stefanie Micatka, a junior, said. Faculty and students agree that part of what makes the event meaningful is the bond within the school community.

Katerina Tesoro, a former Columbia Independent School student and current faculty member, said the school is like a family.

“(The balloon launch) signifies going into the future and the beginning of a new school year,” Deb Swanson, assistant head of school for operations and business ,said. “It’s a beautiful activity.”

Sue Ann Moore, a Latin teacher and founding faculty member of the Columbia Independent School, was at the first balloon launch. Moore said she felt like she was part of history.

Seniors have one more chance to release balloons — at graduation when the balloons will signify their exit from the school into the future.

Supervising Editor is Karen Miller

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