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Hawaii public school students return to classrooms today

    Zhuong, had a big smile as he entered his 4th grade class on the first day of school at Liholiho Elementary School.
    Don Kpof brought his daughter, Sabrina, to her first grade class at Liholiho Elementary School this morning whie holding another daughter, Cassidy.
    Mesha Albano, left, and Isaac Ah Nee, were among a group of early rising Junior Police Officers saluting as the American flag is raised on the first day of school at Liholiho Elementary School. Others who woke up early to direct traffic were Vincent Siu, Noah Yamane, Reece Kadota,and Ashleigh Nahina.

Classes resume today for most of the state’s 180,000 public school students.

The 2012-13 school year will have 180 instructional days. 

The year includes more big changes for public schools, including longer school days for students in two "zones of school innovation" on the Waianae Coast and in the Kau-Pahoa region of Hawaii island. 

Click here for more photos.

Also this school year, a pilot project aimed at revamping teacher evaluations to include student performance data will expand to more than 80 schools. 

In an opinion piece published in the Star-Advertiser on Sunday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Board of Education Chairman Don Horner and schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi wrote, "We enter this school year with renewed determination and confidence about the future. What this means for us as education leaders is that we will continue to move forward on a unified, strategic plan for public education … that defines student success and sets a course for our students to achieve it."

Private schools are also gearing up for the return of students, and a number will welcome students back later this week.

Classes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa resume Aug. 20.

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