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BATON ROUGE – Over 20 Ascension Parish schools welcomed 22,000 students on Monday.

For Dutchtown Principal, Carli Francois, the beginning of school this year was something she has been waiting for.

"I miss them terribly, the first couple of weeks, and we appreciate the quiet, while we analyze the data, but then we are ready to set goals, ready to start thew year, and we want to have these kids back in the building, absolutely," Francois said.

However, some faces she hasn't seen before and that's the standards throughout Ascension Parish schools.

"We grow typically anywhere from 300-600 students per year, on average for the past 10 years we've grown significantly, so we don't anticipate that changing this year," A. Denise Graves, Ascension Schools superintendent, said.

Graves has led the school system over the past few months and it ranks in the top five in the state for performance.

"We just know that they are going to receive a high quality education, and that excites me, and if you're a parent you need to be excited also," Graves said.

Students, like Dutchtown senior Nicholas Peno, are surprisingly excited to be back at school.

"I'm really excited, it's my last year, and I don't know, I just got out bed really quick this morning, and was really pumped," Peno said.

Superintendent Graves will turn over her position next week as the school system hired David Alexander as the new superintendent.

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