When Liang Yongmei, a 36-year-old teacher, arrived in the classroom of Wanchuan School, in Sichuan province, early Monday morning, she found several of her students were already waiting for her.
Some had arrived as much as two hours before class was scheduled to begin.
"Today is their first day to attend school after the May 12 earthquake," Liang said.
"Students are excited and want to interact with each other."
Monday marked the resumption of classes for 60,000 primary and high school students in Dujiangyan, where 45 makeshift schools have recently opened.
The earthquake damaged an estimated 80 percent of schools in the city, forcing more than 70,000 students from 92 schools to miss classes.
On May 15, the Haihong Primary School became the first school in the city to resume classes. Lessons were held in a makeshift tent.
"With the opening of the 45 makeshift schools, classes have resumed for all the primary and high school students in the city," Wang Peijun, an leading official with the Dujiangyan municipal education bureau, told China Daily.
Five cities and prefectures in Anhui helped build the 45 makeshift schools in Dujiangyan with 110 million yuan ($16 million) in financial assistance from Anhui authorities.
The Wanchuan School, built by Anhui province, is the largest makeshift school. Covering 8 hectares, it has 167 classes, holding 7,000 students from six primary and high schools whose buildings were damaged in the earthquake.
When Liu Jinchi, a third grader in the Wanchuan School, attended yesterday's sports class, she was pleasantly surprised that her teacher offered students psychological counseling to help them overcome the trauma of the quake.
Liu, who had stayed in her father's home in the city of Dazhou in eastern Sichuan after the earthquake, said she was happy to be back in class.
However, the student said that she still feared aftershocks.
Liang said all the teachers at the school had offered psychological counseling to their students yesterday.
"School will end more than one month late, to make up for the time lost to the earthquake," she said.
(China Daily June 25, 2008)