Time to Head on Back to School


On September 5th, all across New York City students rubbed their sleepy eyes, shaking off the residual summertime bliss as they prepared for their first day of school. From the morning alarms to the blaring ring of school bells, students left their homes and arrived at their schools for a new educational year.

At Abe Stark Primary School (PS) 346, students arrived promptly before 8 am, wearing crisp light blue shirts and navy pants/skirts. Some children were nervous with first day jitters, hugging onto their new backpacks as they found their teachers within the cement playground behind the school. All of the teachers wore bright smiles while holding onto their classroom signs, ushering the children into their individual classes. Principal Kevin Caifa was also present greeting parents and students.

Middle Schoolers in Gateway Intermediate School (IS) 364 also gathered in their playground. Their uniforms were slightly different from their elementary school counterparts, featuring starched white shirts and navy blue pants/skirts. A sea of uniformed students could be seen and heard laughing and talking to their friends as they quickly reminisce over summertime adventures before the school bell rang. Principal Nicole Fraser Edmund smiled and greeted her students, welcoming them to a bright, new year of learning. The teachers and parents also wanted to create a warm welcome for the students, so they wrote positive phrases with chalk on the school steps and the floor in front IS 364. “Put some pep in your step,” “Love one another,” and “You got this,” were just a few of the optimistic sayings written across the floor.

Frederick Douglass Academy (FDA) VIII students could easily be seen walking into 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue with their black pants and dark burgundy shirts. Some teens wore new hairstyles along with their stylish backpacks and freshly pressed uniforms. Each student entered the school and was greeted kindly by staff members along the way, making the teens feel like an individual and not just another student.

Starrett Early Learning Center (SELC) began welcoming pre-kindergartners for their very first day of school at 9 am. For many of the children this was the first time ever being away from their parents. Some children clung to their parent’s legs, while others excitedly ran into the classrooms ready to learn and play. SELC Director Tammy Moore reassured parents and nervous students as they entered their classrooms that it will take time to readjust, but everyone will work together to make it an easier process.
Being back to school was not ideal for some children, but even the skeptics were swept away by the electric air of excitement that emanated from both the elementary students and middle schoolers as they entered their schools.

Photos by Amanda Moses and Pamela Stern