Some people feel excited as the first day of school approaches, while others feel nervous. Some are ready to see their friends and get back into a routine, while others have loved the family time and more leisurely pace of summer.
When you combine a first day of school with the opening of a new school, it can be challenging to predict the full range of emotions.
This morning, as the first students walked through the doors of Guilford Elementary, there was a sense of calm as well as anticipation. Huge smiles from children and staff, eager to see one another again. Many students had already visited to drop off their school supplies, so they had a sense of how to navigate the school. One student, when asked what grade she was in, responded “I’m in the forest.” And she was correct, since the forest marks the color and mural that announces the entrance to the first grade community.
Thanks to thoughtful planning by Mrs. Perry and Officer Teare, the car rider line moved quickly and safely. The new bus lanes made it safe and simple for students to exit and walk straight into their communities, and without a glitch, everyone made it to their classrooms.
As the morning progressed, classes moved throughout the school, touring the different communities and discovering where all the important things are: the art and music rooms, the gym and cafeteria, the front office, nurse’s clinic, and of course, the playground.
Speaking of the playground, some students played games on the vast parking lot, while other students were able to explore the playground itself. The playground was approved for student use last evening, but the paperwork stating that it was approved was not received until late morning after younger grades had already had recess. Whether they experienced the playground for the first time today or tomorrow, there’s little doubt that Guilford students will find it to be filled with exciting equipment that will yield hours of fun.
When students entered the school this morning, food carts were positioned outside the communities so it was simple to grab breakfast as they entered their classrooms. Later in the day, everyone moved to the cafeteria for lunch, where there is ample room to spread out in the pods that mimic their classroom seating arrangements. For those who don’t bring lunch from home, they were able to quickly move through the lunch lines, and settle in to enjoy lunch with their friends.
Classrooms at Guilford Elementary feature several styles of desks and work stations, and students have options for the types of seating they prefer. With ample collaborative spaces for each grade level, students can safely and comfortably spill out of their classrooms, yet remain safely within their communities and even better, within the watchful eyes of their teacher.
Sometimes the phones didn’t work quite the way everyone expected, and there were times when the phones, doorbells and walkie-talkies were all buzzing at once. But with the help of PTO volunteers and staff who were ready to jump in to help, it was a day that blended the best of calm and excitement. The people were terrific, and the bricks and mortar surpassed everyone’s hopes.
Exploring. Reading. Creating. Researching. Volunteering. Helping. Eating. Playing. Problem-solving. Leading. Following. All of these things were visible, by students of all ages and at all hours of the school day. And today? Today could easily have been the settle in, get-used-to-how-things-work day, but it went well beyond. With this kind of beginning, just imagine what the rest of the school year will bring.
First day or any day, today was a great day.