SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – It’s the first day of school for South Dakota’s largest school district. And students at one Sioux Falls school got a unique welcome on their first day back.

From waves to high fives, students at Garfield Elementary are starting the school year off on a positive note.

Athletes from Augustana University line the sidewalk and halls to offer words of encouragement as students came to school today.

“Helpful to see some of the older kids here and get some words of encouragement, start their first day and seeing a smile on an older kids face,” Augustana University student, softball player, Mary Pardo said.

“Steve Hildebrand at the Promising Futures helped to organize this with Augustana and it’s a great way to encourage our students to have an awesome school year,” principal at Garfield Elementary, Kristin Skogstad.

The first day of school can be an exciting day, but can also have some students a little nervous for the new year.

“I’m a senior in college and I still get the first day of school jitters so I think it’s good to have words of encouragement even when you’re in elementary school,” Pardo said.

“Just knowing that you have a bunch of college students behind you as you’re coming into school I feel like that will give them confidence to have a good first day and so we are excited to do that for them,” Augustana University student, softball player, Abbie Lund said.

A welcome back that can have a lasting impact.

“We talk to kids all the time about goal setting and reaching that goal of graduating from high school and then continuing their learning and when they can see students who are in college supporting them and just our community supporting them gives them just that little extra boost of positivity as they enter the school year knowing they can do it too,” Skogstad said.

You can learn more about the Promising Futures Fund here.