Almost every child's school year starts out with the promise of success.
And after a year of labour strife in and out of the classroom, teachers and officials within the school district are sharing that same sense of optimism.
Coquitlam Teachers' Association president Teresa Grandinetti suggested teachers are glad to start the year off without any job action.
"I think they're hoping for a year where they can enjoy their classroom, which they were doing last year, but without that political piece that was always there," she told The NOW. "It adds a level of stress."
Just as the 2011-12 school year was wrapping up in June, the teachers' union and the province reached a deal that would end the nearly year-long labour dispute.
The agreement is set to expire at the end of the 2012-13 school year, after the next provincial election.
Grandinetti said the union is looking forward to a change in government when the next contract is negotiated.
While the contract is expected to bring peace to the classrooms, it still might not be business as usual.
As part of the dispute, teachers opted out of filling out report cards until instructed to by the Labour Relations Board, while the union voted in favour of withdrawing from extracurricular activities like sports and grad activities last spring.
The withdrawal was a direct reaction to Bill 22, which was legislation that imposed a cooling-off period between the teachers and the employer.
Report cards will handed out, but Grandinetti said resuming involvement in extracurricular activities would remain an individual decision, noting the union isn't sending a directive to members on what they should or shouldn't do.
"I think people will just make their own personal decisions," she said, adding parents don't need to worry about approaching teachers regarding their child's progress.
Though many teachers did withdraw from extracurricular activities, some chose to keep on volunteering.
Centennial Secondary teacher and coach Larry Moro was one of the teachers who kept on coaching.
He's also hoping the atmosphere around schools this year will get back to normal, even though he acknowledged some of the issues surrounding the teachers' contract dispute haven't gone away.
"Last year wasn't fun for anybody," he said.
Moro indicated some teachers will return to the coaching ranks, but others may decide to choose something else, or not volunteer at all. He said he supports either position.
"It's volunteer work. No one can tell you. You have to do it," Moro said.
"The nature of last year caused some people to think whether they wanted to do it or not, so it wouldn't surprise me if we had some people choose not to come back to coach - that's alright."
Local politicians are also optimistic this year will look different than the last.
School District 43 board chair Melissa Hyndes suggested there is still a lot of strife between both sides in the dispute, but believes the kids will be the focus and teachers will return to the work they've always done. "We anticipate the school year will be undisrupted," she said.
Hyndes said the turmoil was not only disruptive to students' learning, but it added stress to parents and families, especially around issues of childcare.
In March, teachers walked off the job for three days, sending some parents scrambling for childcare options.
Hyndes said having a new contract is reassuring for Tri-Cities families, while the board is now looking forward to moving ahead with district initiatives like the personalized learning agenda.