The Jamestown Public Schools District halls were filled with the chatter of students on Wednesday morning as the 2021-22 school year began. Many of the students were greeted by Superintendent Kevin Whitaker. 

This is my favorite day of the year,” Whitaker said. “This is New Year’s Day — Happy New Year to everybody. I love having kids in the buildings. The purpose of these buildings jobs is for them to have kids, for instruction to happen and for learning and growth to happen. This is the first day when we get to have them back, and great things begin today.”   This year, students and staff will be back at school full-time for five days a week. 

Whitaker said he likes to travel to various schools on opening day, but he will have to complete the rounds Thursday due to the half-day. On the first day of school, I always try to get to the elementary schools so I can see the news faces,” he said. “They’re always very excited, and sometimes the parents are a little more scared than the kids.” 

Whitaker said he is thankful for the support from families in the district regarding the start of the year. “From my perspective, a big thank you to parents for sending your kids back — we really appreciate the patience and teamwork that the community has shown over the course of the past year-and-a-half,” he said. “We’re just super excited to have them and their kids and that they entrust their kids to us, the highest honor they can give us.” 

As students and families entered the building, Bush Elementary School Principal Kate Benson greeted them warmly. According to Benson, the first day of school is always a special occasion, but this year is especially so. 

We’re super excited to have everyone back here in the building all day, every day,” Benson said. “We’re excited to be able to have the opportunity to do some more of those engaging learning lessons with the length of the day being full-day versus half-day last year.” 

According to Benson, the school reinstated the ability to enter the building through various entrances this year to make things easier and more efficient. 

“We decided to keep that in terms of keeping the flow of the building moving at a steady pace and keeping that social distancing which is still a requirement for us here in our schools,” she said. 

According to Benson, the first day of school is an important part of the school year because it introduces students to a lot of what they will be focusing on throughout the year. 

Today is an excellent opportunity for us to begin that social-emotional learning that’s taking place in our schools every day,” she said. “We’ll be focusing really on getting along together socially, learning everybody’s names, and creating those classroom communities to help better serve our students here in Jamestown.” 

 Nicole Mason, a second-grade teacher at Bush Elementary School, said the first day back is focused on making the students comfortable in their new classroom. Mason said the class participated in various “getting to know you” activities. “We are going to do a story called ‘A Letter From Your Teacher,’ — a super cute book — just so they understand that it’s the first day, it’s OK to be nervous, we’ll make new friends and our year is going to be great. It just kind of gets all the nerves out,” she said. 

Mason said the students were also offered a school tour, as they hadn’t been in the building in quite some time.  “I love the first day,” she said. “17 years, and I still get nervous, and I still get excited. The first day is always good to start fresh. It’s an exciting time. 

Source: Jamestown Post Journal