Jack said he was also a little nervous, but was looking forward to having no homework and meeting his teacher that day.

"Getting to see my friends," is his favorite part of a new year, Sam said.

When students arrived Monday, they were greeted by teachers also pumped up for a new year.

"It's exciting," Hillcrest Principal Teresa McVey said last week. "Every year, you think you've thought of everything and everything is in place, but every year something happens where you think, 'Wow, I didn't think of that.'

"I walk through the building quite a bit [in the summer], and make lists, check lists," she said.

Hillcrest begins the 2013-2014 school year with an additional two new portable classrooms installed over the summer.

Its increasing enrollment has meant the schedule of two Back-to-School nights instead of one. The last time that happened at the school was more than 15 years ago.

At this time last year, the school was 149 students above the building's state allocated capacity.

With the inclusion of county funding for 500 new elementary seats in Catonsville in the county executive's fiscal year 2014 budget, McVey and her staff are hoping for some relief in the coming years.

"Staff here are used to handling large enrollment," McVey said. "All of the strategies that we've used in the past and have been successful are still in place.

"I'd like to hear what the proposals are," she said of the location for the new 500 seats. "I think, at this point, they have a couple models they want to share and I think at this point we need to continue to collaborate and share.

"[Superintendent] Dr. [Dallas] Dance has been very responsive to Hillcrest and to our needs," McVey said. "He's provided sufficient staffing and has provided sufficient space for us.

"We're prepared, we're ready," she said. "I'm not going to say we've seen everything, but we've seen a lot."