March 8 was an exciting day in the Garden City Public Schools, marking a full return for all in-person students. The middle and high schools welcomed back grades 7, 9 and 10 back five days per week, and Stewart School’s fifth graders were thrilled to return to their home building.
This was the final phase of the district’s plan to resume full in-school instruction, as other middle and high school grades have already been back in their classrooms on a daily basis. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kusum Sinha visited many classrooms throughout the week and listened to students’ thoughts and suggestions.
The fifth graders, who were housed at the middle school since September, received warm greetings from Principal Linda Norton, Assistant Principal Keri Hand and faculty members as they entered the familiar Stewart School hallways that they have known for many years. The students shared that they are missing some of the traditional celebrations that the pandemic has impacted, but are happy to see their younger siblings at school and spend their final months of elementary school in environments that hold many memories.
The secondary students have expressed enthusiasm about being back in their buildings five days a week and having more opportunities to see their friends and teachers in person.
“Most [high school] students are sharing the same message: they are happy to be in school every day, they get to see some of their friends they haven’t seen all year from the other cohort,” Garden City High School Principal Kevin Steingruebner said. “They are excited to be participating in sports again and be part of their teams, wearing uniforms and playing in actual games.”
“It´s good to be back full time,” middle school student MaryKate Allen said. “I like being back with all my friends and I pay attention more when I am in school.”
“My opinion on full time is that it’s definitely helped me academically and socially,” middle school student Julia Forelli said. “My grades have been better and I’ve been getting more of my homework done. I also see my friends that I didn’t see in school [when we were hybrid].”
“It was great to have a full class again, the amount of enthusiasm and participation increases tremendously with everyone back,” Garden City Middle School science teacher Mark Czachor said.
“It is wonderful to see how happy our students are and to hear their input,” Superintendent Sinha said. “Many districts throughout the country are just opening their doors for the first time after being remote most of the year. The fact that we were able to do that in September and have made so much progress since speaks to the dedication of our board of education, administrative team and staff members and all the planning that they committed to making this full return possible.”
—Submitted by Garden City Public Schools