This morning was the first day of school in Middletown. Students, teachers and staff were excited to return and try to get back some normalcy amid COVID-19.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 712-2221 or email@example.com
STRONG OPENING FOR MIDDLETOWN SCHOOLS
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (SEPT. 8, 2021) – Schools are back from summer in Middletown.
This morning, students and educators returned to in person classes across the district, with a warm, welcoming message hailing everyone.
At Middletown High, tenth graders Owen Hawkins and Kelsey Welby were in the middle of an “icebreaker” activity in Lee-Ann Wells’ English class.
“It was a good summer,” Owen said. “I spent a lot of time at the (Second) Beach. It’s good to be back.”
“I played a lot of sports this summer, softball and volleyball,” Kelsey said, the president of the sophomore class. “It’s nice to see everyone again and there’s something very special about having everyone here in classes again. I’m looking forward to it.”
“It’s great to have everyone back in the building,” Wells said, drawing on a dry-erase board in the front of the class. “It’s a lot easier to develop a rapport with students when you’re with them in person every day.”
Downstairs by the front office, juniors Julissa Hunter and Brittany Nogueira said they forgot how many students went to the Valley Road school with COVID-19 restrictions in place last year.
“I can’t wait to get rid of these masks,” Julissa said, laughing. “I know why we have them, but I think everyone feels the same way.”
“What am I looking forward to most? Prom, definitely,” Brittany said. “That’s going to be a good night.”
Around the corner at Gaudet Middle School and the Gaudet Learning Academy, teachers and staff cheered students at every entrance with heartfelt personal greetings, high-fives and fist bumps.
“It great finally meeting the students and getting to know them and the staff better,” Gaudet Principal William Niemeyer said. “I know the focus here at Gaudet is getting things back on track from last year with all the interruptions from COVID. There’s a lot of learning to do and last year was tough on everyone. We’re looking to restore some normalcy and do a double step with our instruction.”
Gaudet Behavior Specialist Keith Edwards said it was great to catch up with students and colleagues.
“It’s nice to be back and see everyone,” Edwards said, saying hello to students in an upstairs hallway. “I know the thing I’m looking forward to is getting these masks off, just like everyone else.”
Down the road at Aquidneck Elementary School, first grade students got off buses in one spot and then second and third graders were dropped in another outside the Aquidneck Avenue building.
As they stepped from the bus, each student got a squirt of hand sanitizer and a kindhearted welcoming. Those who were unsure where to go were helped by teachers and staff with whatever was needed.
Principal Erica Bulk said it was a strong opening and she and the rest of the staff were thrilled to have students back in the class.
“If you look around, everyone here is happy,” Bulk said. “Obviously, we are focused on education, but making sure our students feel welcome here is a huge, huge priority.”
Others like first grade teacher Tara Mellow agreed.
“Honestly, I can’t wait to get all my students reading and holding books in their hands, not on the computer,” Mellow said, smiling. “We’re so happy to be back.”
Wearing a shirt with a majestic unicorn, first grader Livia Sofia Erculano said she felt good about her first day at school.
“I know it’s going to be better than last year,” Livia said. “I can’t wait.”
Across town, Forest Avenue Principal Lisa Birkett was welcoming students and parents as they walked into the main office of the elementary school.
“For months, I’ve been learning their names on paper and it’s nice to be able to start putting faces to names,” Birkett said. “Today has been really great for our Forest Avenue community and I can’t wait to get into the classrooms and see the outstanding work our teachers do here every day.”
Third grade teacher Toni Cawley said there was so much positive energy in the building, both from students and educators.
“My goal here is to create an environment where kids feel safe, valued and appreciated,” Cawley said. “It’s great that all the kids are back. The school is full again and there’s a buzz in the hallways and our classrooms. That’s good to see and hear again.”
Superintendent Rosemarie K. Kraeger concurred, saying she had heard nothing but positive reports across the district on Day 1.
“Across the district, it was a strong, healthy opening,” Kraeger said. “Everyone seemed to be very happy and excited to be back and we’re looking forward to a strong, exciting year where education and safety are our No. 1 priorities in each of our schools."