The schools came alive today with students toting colorful backpacks, chatting with friends, meeting their new teachers and, at New Rochelle High School, enjoying a cookout held to welcome the freshmen.
"I just feel overjoyed," said Rebecca Tamrat, starting seventh grade at Isaac E. Young Middle School. "It gives me something to look forward to. I like hanging out with my friends, and I'm going to be in Drama Club this year. I've always had a soft spot for singing and acting. It's something I really want to do."
The 2019-20 school year begins with several new administrators in place, including IEYMS Assistant Principal Plinio Trujillo, who felt uplifted after the day's first assembly, with the sixth-grade class.
"They had great energy," he said. "There were a lot of smiles. They were happy to see each other."
The District's 11,000 students come back to school in phases. Students from pre-kindergarten through ninth grade began school today. Tomorrow, sophomores, juniors and seniors return to NRHS. The upper two grades leave after a welcome-back orientation. Friday is the first full day of classes for all, except for students in the pre-kindergarten program at Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center. Their first full day is Monday.
||Students arriving at Columbus Elementary School.
"I was thrilled to see how smoothly opening day went," said Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey. "The start of the year is always filled with so much excitement, potential and possibility. Today I saw teachers excited to be back in their classrooms and children ready to learn. It was a wonderful start to the year."
Dr. Parvey was also pleased with improvements in the school buildings, thanks to the ongoing renovations funded largely by the $106.5 million in bond money approved by voters in 2016.
"Wherever you look, there are new doors, new flower beds, new coats of paint," she said. "Our buildings are some of the most precious assets in the city, and they are looking their best thanks to the Facilities Department and Director Carl Thurnau."
Sara and Marco Torres were happy to have their daughter Calah Torres start third grade at Columbus Elementary School, which her two older sisters attended.
"The teachers here are fabulous," Sara Torres said. "They're very welcoming. You have great communication with them."
Marco Torres said Calah had been prepared well at Barnard, which she attended through second grade.
"She's more than ready," he said. "She's already reading at a third- or fourth-grade level."
At Barnard, Principal Dr. Nicolas Cracco greeted students and introduced them to the new assistant principal, Candice Lee. He said he loves the community feeling that fills the school on opening day.
"Once the kids and the families are back here, it's like our whole Barnard family is back together," he said. "The kids are just so excited to meet all their friends - new ones and ones that they knew from last year - and their new teachers. They are excited to be learning from Day One."
First-grade teacher Lourdes Jimenez loves the first day of school.
"My favorite day is the first day of school because I get to meet all new friends," the Barnard teacher said. "I know they're all very excited and they've adjusted beautifully."
She read "I Like Myself" to her new class and the students discussed what makes everybody special and unique. The students drew self-portraits to help build self awareness and to help the students get to know each other.
Middle schoolers flocked to Albert Leonard Middle School and Isaac E. Young Middle School for orientation.
At ALMS, Principal John Barnes met with the eighth graders first. He welcomed them back and talked about expectations and opportunities. He urged students to have empathy, show kindness and get involved, and to respect the school, the teachers, the staff and themselves.
"Your outcomes determine your opportunities," he told them. "I'm dedicated to making this your best year yet, but guess what? I don't make that happen, you do."
Remember, he told them, "This is the year to be in it ... " and the students roared back: "to win it!"
Freshmen at New Rochelle High School were treated to a cookout.
"We want to make them feel welcome," said NRHS Interim Principal Joseph Starvaggi. "We want to show our students that they have opportunities and they are valued for who they are as individuals."
The ninth-graders were met by juniors and seniors from Ignite, a mentoring program. Senior Olivia Guilford, an Ignite member, said she tries to show students the true goal of education.
"It's not just about books and putting pencil to paper," she said. "It's your journey. It's about discovering who you are."