Students Return To City Schools

Under the shine of the beating sun, all city schools in the Jamestown Public Schools district welcomed students back with open arms Thursday.

Jamestown fell in line with other Chautauqua County school districts that opened earlier this week. Jamestown opened all eight of its school buildings Thursday morning including Jamestown High School, Bush Elementary School, Fletcher Elementary School, Lincoln Elementary School, Love Elementary School, Ring Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School, Persell Middle School, Washington Middle School, and the Tech Academy.

“It’s fun to see how excited the kids are coming back to school,” said Bret Apthorpe, JPS superintendent, after greeting students at JHS and Ring. “None of (the high school students) will admit it, but the smiles on their faces and the laughter and the friends reconnecting and hugging is a fun experience.”

Apthorpe expressed his excitement for the students and their parents to embark on the new school year.

“Seeing the excitement on the little (kids’) faces and some of the anxiousness on the first-year kindergarten parents’ faces,” he said. “You can feel a lot of great positive energy. It was nice to feel that at the high school and here at the elementary school.”

Apthorpe said the first week is typically a chance for students and teachers to acclimate to their routines, school safety and procedures.

At Ring, students were also greeted by a relatively new face, Principal Annette Miller. While Miller has served the district for 28 years in various capacities, the 2018-19 school year will serve as her first in the new role.

“We’ve worked with the teachers for past two days with inservice days getting ready for this opening day and for the rest of the school year,” Miller said.

Ring held an open house the night before opening day to connect students with faculty and staff.

Various parents, students, community members and teachers were all in attendance connecting with each other.

“I think this first week is more about building that community because have to build those relationships and getting to know each other,” she said.

One parent among that community Miller spoke of was Anthony Cusimano, who has two daughters returning to Ring in first and third grade. While having been through the process before, he said the first day of school will “always be a first day of school” in regards to his daughters’ excitement.

As for them acclimating to their routines, Cusimano said “they’re getting there.”

“I think it’s going to be a smooth year,” he said.

Over at Fletcher, students funneled into classrooms similar to the other schools. Inside Kara Benson’s Kindergarten classroom, students began their educational career by introducing themselves, and later began learning the procedures and safety measures Apthorpe referred to.

Sitting in a circle, Benson’s students began introducing themselves to each other by stating their name and favorite style of ice cream. Benson said a form of introduction and conversation is important on the first day in class with Kindergarten students who don’t know each other.

“There’s always shy kids, but they always seem to warm up by the end of the day,” Benson said.

For Kindergarten students, the first day consists mostly of learning names, practicing lining up and walking in the hallways, among other procedures and beginning their new routine. Next week, those students will begin basic skill activities involving writing and mathematics.

Tuesday was the first chance Benson had to meet her new students. For her, things were going well and she was excited to put a face to each of their names she had been preparing for all summer.