Slideshow: Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith welcome Meadow Lake Elementary students on first day of school

Lt. Governor Tina Smith greets students Sept. 5 in the doorway of Meadow Lake Elementary. (Sun Post staff photo by Laci Gagliano) Governor Mark Dayton talks to a student Sept. 5 at Meadow Lake Elementary. Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith greeted students for their first day of school. Assistant Principal Gaeli Inverson greets a student arriving from the bus for the first day of school Sept. 5 at Meadow Lake Elementary in New Hope. (Sun Post staff photos by Laci Gagliano) New Hope Mayor Kathi Hemken greets students Sept. 5 at Meadow Lake Elementary. (Sun Post staff photos by Laci Gagliano) Students arriving from buses for the first day of school were greeted with high-fives and handshakes from school board members (at left), New Hope Mayor Kathi Hemken (at right), and Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith (at center). (Sun Post staff photo by Laci Gagliano) Governor Mark Dayton gives a press conference Sept. 5 at Meadow Lake Elementary in New Hope. (Sun Post staff photos by Laci Gagliano) Lt. Governor Tina Smith Sept. 5 during a press conference at Meadow Lake Elementary. (Sun Post staff photo by Laci Gagliano) Superintendent Carlton Jenkins speaks at a Sept. 5 press conference at Meadow Lake Elementary in New Hope. Principal Jane Byrne speaks Sept. 5 during a press conference at Meadow Lake Elementary. (Sun Post staff photos by Laci Gagliano)
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Students arriving from buses for the first day of school were greeted with high-fives and handshakes from school board members (at left), New Hope Mayor Kathi Hemken (at right), and Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith (at center). (Sun Post staff photo by Laci Gagliano)

Students and parents arriving for the first day of school at Meadow Lake Elementary in New Hope were pleasantly surprised when Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith were waiting for them at the front doors.

Joining the Governor and Lt. Governor were Robbinsdale Area Schools Superintendent Carlton Jenkins, the Robbinsdale Area School Board, and New Hope Mayor Kathi Hemken. Principal Jane Byrne and Assistant Principal Gaeli Iverson welcomed their students back to the fresh school year.

It was a chilly, lightly breezy morning, and students arrived clad in coats and jackets. Many of their parents reacted to the Governor with surprised excitement and asked for photos, which he enthusiastically obliged. Some of the students also recognized him, racing off of the bus after having gotten word of his presence, and appearing star-struck when they had the opportunity to shake his hand or give him a high-five. Many others, particularly the youngest children, seemed baffled by the gaggle of adults and cameras surrounding the school corridors.

As the elementary students filed off the school buses, they passed through a row of high-fives, hugs from familiar faces, and handshakes. First day jitters melted away and a sense of wonder replaced worried faces.

During a brief press conference held shortly after the students arrived, Gov. Dayton addressed the state’s recent $2 billion investment in voluntary preK, all-day Kindergarten, and other education funding. Robbinsdale Area Schools were the recipient of the largest allotment of preK funding, providing the opportunity for a sizable influx of children to receive early childhood education.

Dayton said he’s pleased for 22,500 children statewide to have this opportunity, and hopes to expand it to even more children statewide in 2018.