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First day of school is wet, sometimes weepy

Children wearing bright, colorful rain gear splashed into Maniscalco Elementary during a heavy downpour on the first day of school.

"It's good luck if it rains on the first day of school," said kindergarten teacher Paula Cavezzi, "like if it rains on your wedding day."

Fifth-grader Christina Davis disagreed. She was annoyed that she had forgotten her lunch box. "Rain makes everything more complicated," she said.

Thursday _ the first day of school in Hillsborough County _ was a soggy and sometimes emotional event for students and parents. They faced traffic tie-ups caused by heavy rains, as well as teary departures when parents dropped off their young children.

Five-year-old Chloee Southard, though, was ready for her first day. She stood outside her kindergarten classroom at Clark Elementary with her parents. "I can do all my letters," she said confidently.

She launched into a lively rendition of the alphabet song. She hiccupped when she got to "h" in the song, but, undaunted by the interruption, she finished the song with a flourish.

Her mother, Julie Finen, smiled at Chloee. Finen was proud that Chloee had mastered her ABCs, and was thrilled that she soon would gain more knowledge.

"I can't wait for her to learn," Finen said.

But Finen recognized, in the days leading up to school, that Chloee's main focus was not on learning.

"She's been more interested in her backpack," Finen said.

_ CAROLINE RANES and KATHERINE GAZELLA

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