By Lisa Washington

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Today is the day as thousands of area students return to the classroom.

It’s the biggest back to school day in our area as students from Hempfield, Canon-McMillan and Pittsburgh Public Schools prepare to hit the books once again.

Monday morning at Miller Academy in Pittsburgh’s Hill District was anything but boring.

The principal, teachers and students danced their way down the red carpet, ushering in the first day of the new school year.

Parents loved the excitement and getting their children back to class.

“I have three boys, so I was ready, let them get some energy out at school,” said Rhonda Jordan as she dropped off her two sons for the start of the new year.

Those who weren’t shy, didn’t mind strutting into school. Miller’s principal, Margaret Starkes, Ph.D., says she was inspired to create the dance party welcome after last week’s convocation for Pittsburgh Public Schools’ teachers and staff.

“The children are worth it,” said Starkes. “They deserve our very, very best…We wanted to give them a really special shout out and thank them for all that we know they’re going to do this year and encourage them and wrap them in support.”

Starkes also used her rap skills in a Facebook video to help welcome the students back to school.

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, Ph.D. visited seven schools on the district’s first day. Miller was his first stop.

“It’s almost like it’s game day for me,” said Hamlet. “I have some adrenaline going, some butterflies going, I’m excited about what’s coming this year.”

Dr. Hamlet tells the “KDKA Morning News” he is excited about the initiatives they are implementing to increase proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics.

He adds the recently announced plan to reduce standardized testing in Pennsylvania by 20 percent is a good idea.

“We don’t want our teachers and administrators constantly preparing for evaluations. We want our teachers and principals to make sure they’re…frequently informed of assessments…and making sure that our kids are learning the content that’s been taught,” said Hamlet.

Following the district’s motto of “Expect Great Things,” parents have high hopes for the new school year.

“A great year,” said James McMiller, as he dropped of his son for the first day of third grade. “Pittsburgh Miller is a great school, they help a lot with the kids, just to continue doing that.”

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