Stan Rentz walked up to the Rim Country Middle School student holding a sign that read: “Are you lost?”

“Yeah, I’m lost,” Rentz told her.

The Payson Unified School District’s new superintendent wasn’t alone. Several new students at the middle school wandered around trying to figure out where to go on the first day of a new school year Monday morning.

So Rentz appreciated the seventh- and eighth-grade students offering guidance.

“She was very helpful,” Rentz said. “It’s great to see our upperclassmen at the middle school helping out like this.”

Although he needed directions himself, Rentz was still offering help to students who looked lost like him.

“You look in their face and see that they’re lost and try to help them and build a relationship there real quick,” he said.

RCMS was the third of four stops for Rentz as school began for more than 2,000 students in the district. He spent a few minutes at Payson Elementary then Julia Randall Elementary before moving over to RCMS. He planned to finish up a busy morning at the high school.

He wanted to be in as many places as he could on this big day.

“Today’s always a special day, especially this time of the morning,” he said just after 8 a.m. “In about an hour or so everything’s going to be settled in. I’m going to try to walk through the schools at that point. But I certainly wanted to be out and just catch all the excitement of the first day of school.”

He’d love to bottle that excitement.

“I was telling our administrators the other day, ‘I know you can’t always be at that level, but if we can hold onto that enthusiasm and excitement and still feel the same way in November, it’s going to be a great year,’” Rentz said.

The PUSD superintendent was on hand as RCMS staff kicked off the year in a festive way with teachers, staff, Payson police officers, Payson firefighters and other community members gathering in two lines, with the approximately 600 students walking between the lines giving high fives and fist bumps to everyone as they made their way into an assembly in the gym.

“This is our second year with the back-to-school gauntlet,” said RCMS Principal Jennifer White. “Mr. (Trevor) Creighton, our counselor, and I had seen a commercial for Walmart where students and parents had lined up with new backpacks. We thought it would be a great idea if we could bring community members into the gauntlet as well. We received overwhelming support from the community. I love our community — they are amazing.”

Rentz noticed police officers at all the schools he visited on Monday.

“What I’ve really been impressed with is our law enforcement presence out this morning greeting our kids, making their presence known and helping and directing traffic and also helping parents,” Rentz said. “It’s been very impressive.

“What that tells me is we’ve got a community that pulls together and cares about the same things. And I think it reassures our parents that our law enforcement officers are behind us 100 percent.”

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