The last weekend of freedom came and went for a vast majority of Ahwatukee Foothills students.

Classes at all Kyrene schools, as well as Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista high schools, started on Monday, Aug. 9.

The school year kicked off early for incoming freshman at the two high schools, both of which saw a jump in attendance this year.

On Thursday and Friday of last week, Mountain Pointe conducted its Freshman Boot Camp, an introduction for students into what it will be like as they make the transition to high school. Desert Vista had its freshman orientation on Friday for students and parents.

One student expressed her excitement for the challenges ahead.

"I'm feeling confident," said Yana Phalen, a 14-year-old Ahwatukee resident. "I'm looking forward to a fresh start and learning new things."

Both high schools had seen a slight decrease in attendance over the past few years. Desert Vista principal Dr. Anna Battle attributed this to Ahwatukee Foothills being landlocked.

"By only enrolling students from a school district that was becoming level (and) declining because both school districts are landlocked, now, with little new development compared to 10 years ago, student enrollment within our attendance zone had the tendency to decline," Battle wrote in an e-mail.

But actions like opening up the campuses to outside of district zones have righted the ship for the time being.

"An open enrollment process was put in place for this year... The process was successful and our numbers are increasing," she wrote.

At Akimel A-al Middle School on Wednesday, Aug. 4, while kids picked up their schedules, there was similar excitement in the air, but with an added touch of nervousness for those making the big jump from elementary school.

"We're both a little nervous," Carolyn Wheeler said of her and her 12-year-old daughter, Micarah. "But the teachers and administration are just great. They make it an easy transition."

On the opposite end of the spectrum: For students like Jessica Zorker, 13, this will be their last year of middle school.

"I'm excited about going back," Zorker said. "And this will be my last year. All my friends are here and we are all looking forward to seeing each other."

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