Parker Voss's pace grew slower and slower as he inched toward the bumble bee decorated door of his kindergarten classroom Friday morning.
Having attended private pre-K at a center in Alpharetta the year before, Parker was accustomed to the day-to-day ritual of going to school.
But it wasn't until he was walking down the long corridor to Riverview Elementary School's kindergarten wing that the reality set in and became almost too much for the 5-year-old to brave.
"It's a whole lot bigger here," he told his mom Shannon Voss, who smiled and agreed.
"A whole lot bigger," she told him as he snuggled closer and nervously slid his T-shirt up to cover part of his face.
The young mother admitted she had a few butterflies in her stomach that morning, too.
"This is the next big step and this one lasts for 13 years," she said.
Seeing her typically outgoing and boisterous baby clam up didn't do much to calm the nerves either.
"That's not like him at all. You definitely know where Parker is in the room," she said.
"He was real excited about it last night. Then this morning he woke up about 15 minutes before I even did and said, ‘Mommy I've got to get dressed.'"
It took a few minutes longer than Voss anticipated to get Parker settled into his class where a coloring page of a large sunshine and crayons awaited each student as they arrived.
Finally agreeing to take his seat and embark on all that can be learned in kindergarten, Parker tugged open the backpack he'd been instructed to hang on his chair and pulled out several sheets of paper he packed the night before.
On the papers, he had printed his name in big, squiggly, block letters.
"They're for Ms. B [his teacher Angie Buytendorp]," he said, his eyes lighting up and a smile taking over his face.
Then as she watched her son's first official bonding moment with his teacher that was cemented with a high-five when he showed "Ms. B" his work, Voss knew Parker was going to have a great first day of school.
"I'm hoping that that's the way the day will turn out, that he'll be able to come home all chatty and happy like he normally does," she said.
With a system-wide student headcount of nearly 3,330, Dawson County School Superintendent Damon Gibbs said the year got off to great start.
"We had a smooth first day in Dawson County," he said. "We have a wonderful community and fully expect a great 2015-16 school year."