They donned their backpacks, boarded their buses, and prepared for the next step on their educational journey.

Most students in the TIMES NEWS coverage area returned to their classrooms on Monday for the first day of the 2013-14 school year.

Palmerton, Northern Lehigh, Panther Valley and Tamaqua area school districts were among those to kick off the new school year.

Over at the Parkside Education Center, Principal Mary Brumbach and staff members greeted students as they arrived.

Palmerton Area School District Superintendent Scot Engler said he was extremely pleased with how well the day flowed.

"I can tell you that we had an outstanding opening day; everything across the entire district went smoothly," Engler said. "We're off and running for a great year."

It was much the same at Slatington Elementary, where Principal Scott Pyne and staff members welcomed students back to their classrooms.

Northern Lehigh School District Superintendent Michael Michaels said he was "so excited seeing the students, watching the little guys come into school."

"You live for days like this," Michaels said. "They were all excited about coming back."

Michaels said there were no problems to report, either in the classrooms, or with the bus stops.

"It was a wonderful opening," he said. "Our support staff and our teachers really worked hard to make this opening so smooth."

Jim Thorpe Area School District was set to open for classes this morning. Lehighton Area School District begins classes Sept. 3.