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'Best day of the school year' Teachers surprise students at their homes

It's become an annual tradition. Teachers load up their cars with gift bags, and head to the homes of their students. One by one, they give them a big welcome.

WASHINGTON — Monday marks the start of the school year in Fairfax County, but for some students, they got a big welcome days earlier.

At the Daniels Run Elementary School in Fairfax, teachers loaded up their cars with swag bags, and went door-to-door to welcome their incoming students for the annual "Welcome Walk." 

"I am so excited," said Vicky Reidenbaugh, a STEAM teacher at the school. 

"Very excited," agreed Alyssa Ollis, as the duo headed to their first student's home. 

First on the list was the Ho Family, where Brandon was getting ready to enter the first grade. His sister, Olivia, was a former student of Ollis. 

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"It looks like it's this one," Ollis said, as they pulled up to the home. "And they have a sign up!"

After a quick knock on the door, the teachers were greeted by Olivia, with a huge smile on her face. Olivia said she looks forward to the Welcome Walk every year. 

Credit: Evan Koslof
The Ho family greets their teacher at the door, during the annual "Welcome Walk."

"It kind of helps me," she said. "Because usually I get kind of nervous. And now that I know that I can know my teachers, it makes me feel really good." 

After some hugs, the teachers were then off to their second stop; The Hickman home. 

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"We have Nathan and Ellie," Ollis said. "Brothers and sister."

The two are actually twins, entering the first grade. Their big brother, Aiden is a former student. The kids decorated the sidewalk with a welcome sign made out of chalk. 

"I love this," said Reidenbaugh, as they walked up to the home.  

Credit: Evan Koslof
The Hickman family, shortly after greeting their teacher at the door, during the annual "Welcome Walk."

Amit Hickman, the trio's mother, said this annual event helps the kids feel more comfortable about the return to school. 

"It just makes it so much more special," she said. "To have that one on one time. And really get to show who the children are. And to see who the teachers are in a less crowded environment."

Chris Smith is the principal at the school, and said it's a powerful event, that brings the community together.  

"Almost everyone says this is the best day of the year..." he said. "I think it breaks down the wall between school and home."

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