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A family's first day of school (video)

By Carolina Astrain
Aug. 26, 2013 at 3:26 a.m.

Jayden Salinas, 5, left, looks at a globe with his brother, Dylan Salinas, 9, while their siblings, Sydney Salinas, 10, far left, and Gabriel Casarez, 14, watch, in Jayden's new kindergarten classroom at Dudley Elementary Magnet School.

First day enrollment

The Victoria County schools began classes Monday morning. Here's a look at their preliminary enrollment numbers.

• Victoria: 14,659

• Nursery: 107

• Bloomington: 822

Source: VISD, BISD, NISD

Raindrops fell over the Silver City home as the Salinas children ate their breakfast and finished up an episode of "Pokemon" before heading out to school.

Wearing an ironed, teal polo, Gabriel Casarez, 14, the oldest of his brothers and sisters, was ready for his first day at Liberty Academy.

"I'm a little nervous but mostly excited," Gabriel said. "I was so happy when I found out that I had been accepted."

He applied for admission to Liberty, the early college center and credit recovery campus, to earn his associate degree before the end of his senior year and improve his chances of getting into medical school, Gabriel said.

Gabriel joined 96 other early college center students and 75 credit recovery students at Liberty's campus Monday morning on the Victoria school district's first day of school.

But before heading over to his new high school campus, Gabriel joined his parents in dropping off his younger siblings - Jayden, Sydney and Dylan Salinas - at Dudley Elementary School.

His youngest brother, Jayden Salinas, 5, avoided puddles as best as he could on his way to his first day of kindergarten.

"He's not even holding my hand," said Ricardo Salinas, his father. "Usually, he clutches it on the way into the building."

But once the 5-year-old reached his classroom, his confidence dissipated, and tears began to fall.

After Jayden's parents greeted his teacher, he curled his palms around the classroom door frame, resisting entrance.

His sister, Sydney Salinas, 10, had a similar reaction.

A teary-eyed Sydney hugged her teacher, Tracie Depine, tightly before taking a seat.

"Dry it up, princess," Depine said, patting her head. "Oh, look, you still look beautiful."

Melissa Salinas, Sydney's mother, gave her one last look of encouragement and walked away.

Gabriel looked on as his younger siblings settled into their classrooms.

"It's sad," he said. "They're growing up so fast."

Once Gabriel and his parents were done saying their goodbyes at Dudley, they drove to Liberty.

It was a trip Gabriel had looked forward to all summer.

Walking several paces ahead of his parents, Gabriel beat them to the cafeteria.

He picked up his class schedule and talked about his goals for the school year.

"I want to win first place with my TPSP (Texas Performance Standards Project)," Gabriel said. "Last year, I worked on a project on the Holocaust. I want to do that again this year."

The bell rang, and goodbyes were made.

Gabriel made his way to Pre-AP English I, waving farewell once more through the foggy cafeteria glass.

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