NEWINGTON â€“ Students and faculty described what felt like â€śa new energyâ€ť on the first day of school Thursday.
â€śThere were a lot of hugs and screams,â€ť Newington High School Principal Terra Tigno said of students reuniting with their friends and teachers, along with staff seeing their colleagues after a long summer.
â€śWe are fully staffed and thrilled to open our doors to 1,300-plus students,â€ť Tigno added. â€śWeâ€™re excited to dive deep into learning.â€ť
The school community enjoyed a warm welcome from the Student Council â€“ or â€śStucoâ€ť as it is fondly known here â€“ Thursday morning.
First and foremost, as kids got off the bus or out of their cars in the student parking lot they caught a glimpse of a giant banner welcoming the Norâ€™Easters, the schoolâ€™s new mascot.
Masks are optional this year and there will be no hybrid or remote learning for the foreseeable future, which came as a relief for many.
Sitting in their first study hall of the year in the cafeteria were juniors Olivia Boutilier, Angelina Ruiz and Megan Paradis.
â€śItâ€™s alright,â€ť Boutilier said of her first day back.
â€śItâ€™s like, slow and fast at the same time,â€ť Ruiz said.
â€śA little nerve-racking,â€ť Paradis added.
The trio said they were most looking forward to football games and seeing their friends this year.
Across the cafĂ© sat sophomore Julian Ross chatting with his friends.
â€śItâ€™s going pretty good, just a bit nervous,â€ť Ross reported of his first day. â€śItâ€™s kind of awkward in classes; thereâ€™s a lot of new people.â€ť
Meanwhile inside Martin Kellogg Middle School, business was also off to a good start.
â€śLeading up to today our custodial and maintenance staff did a fantastic job preparing the building,â€ť MKMS Principal Jason Lambert said. â€śItâ€™s been a good start to the day. A lot of energy in the building; a lot of optimism. Kids are excited to be back in school seeing their friends, getting back to their routines.â€ť
Teachers were also happy to have students filling their classrooms, ready to learn.
There are no one-way hallways or mask breaks. Sanitizing stations are still present and probably always will be.
â€śIt has the semblance of a regular year,â€ť Principal Lambert pointed out. â€śThereâ€™s definitely a buzz in the building and a strong energy in the community.â€ť
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.