Students across the Christina School District celebrated their first day of school on Wednesday morning.

With the exception of those enrolled in the Christina Virtual Academy, students are returning for five days of in-person classes a week for the first time since March 2020, something that excited many parents and educators.

Newark High School Principal Aaron Selekman, who greeted many students after they came off the bus, said he is excited for a return to extracurricular activities.

“I’m looking forward to live music, live theater, choral performances,” Selekman said. “I’m excited about sports but also all the activities that are traditionally indoors that we have not been able to have – our art gallery night, allowing artists to display their work and our jazz ensembles. Our school is so rich with talent.”

Incoming freshman Rachel Lehrfeld said she is looking forward to making new friends and returning to in-person learning.

“It’s a lot better than it was,” Lehrfeld said. “It’s more of an education.”

Her mother, Liz Lehrfeld, is happy her daughter is returning to school and will be expand her social circle. She said her daughter was still able to meet people through social media but is excited to have face-to-face interactions

“She was completely virtual last year, so this is a good thing for her,” Liz Lehrfeld said.

Brian Anthony, a transfer student from the Concord High School, said he looks forward to a return to in-person learning as well as participating in the track team.

“I need structure in my school days,” Anthony said.

Aaron Allen, the father of Brian and another Newark High student Blair Anthony, said online learning helped prepare his children for the real world. 

“When you get a real job, you're more responsible for how you get things done,” Allen said. "That sense of freedom of getting things done on your own accord rather than ‘you're in this class for this long and then move on to another class’. It was definitely a bit of a shock, but its more like the real world. You get your things done and you move on to the next thing.”

At Downes Elementary School, students and parents lined up to start the new school year.

Kelly Drozd was dropping off her daughter, Riley.

“I’m looking forward to her just being back with kids her own age and making friends, just getting back to normal,” Drozd said.

Shaina Brown was nervous sending her son, VaShawn, off to his first day, as it was the first time sending her child to school during the pandemic after being entirely virtual last year. However, she said she was confident Downes would keep her child safe as long as COVID-19 protocols are followed.

“At first it was a little difficult because it was something new. He wasn’t used to online, but after a while, he got used to it and started doing well,” Brown said.

Downes special education teacher Carolyn Cowder greeted many students, including students she taught virtually, as they left the bus to go back to the classroom.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work with the kids, getting them involved in hands-on activities along with others,” Cowder said.

Downes Principal Anne Park said the school is excited to have students back and is ready for in-person learning after dealing with the pandemic last year.

“They're so excited to be in the building, see their friends and just get to experience school,” Park said.

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