Washington High School (WHS) had its first day back for the 2021-22 school year on Wednesday with a few new plans in action.
According to WHS Principal Tracy Rose, the first day went smoothly with many students showing enthusiasm and happiness to be back — especially the students that were in remote learning last year due to the pandemic.
“What was different about this first day back (in comparison to previous years) was there was a different excitement — they missed it, and they appreciated it because we could do it,” said Rose.
Students did well with the transition back to full-capacity (approximately 630 students) and got to classes in a timely manner. According to Rose, the smoothness to the first day could be largely attributed to this year’s freshman orientation in which students got to meet faculty, find classrooms and lockers, and get acquainted with the building.
Staff members were also enthused to be back with the students — and a higher staff presence will be seen this year at the high school.
Rose explained that 39 staff members will be out in the morning to greet students and out after school to see them off. They will be in all areas inside and outside the high school.
“I want kids to feel safe and know they have someone immediately (if they need any kind of assistance or are feeling out of sorts that day),” said Rose.
Staff will be looking for facial expressions, body language, etc. to see what kind of mindset a student might be in to be able to help get them in a better place before the day starts or before they leave.
“This will help recognize if they are okay and to help them feel safe, welcome and respected,” said Rose. “It’s always necessary, but when you throw in things they have to deal with at home, outside of school (especially during these times), it’s very important.”
Another new aspect this year is a homeroom that will be held in the middle of the day during every school day.
The main purpose of the homeroom, according to Rose, is to check in with students and allow for “consistent relationship building.” During this time, they will be with a staff member, counselors can pop in, administrators can visit rooms, general guidance can be provided throughout the building or academic programming can occur.
“We’ve got a lot we want to try and squeeze into it once we know (the students) are in a good place with someone they can trust,” said Rose.
The community may notice new speed signs on Elm Street within the school district. Rose recognized and thanked the City of Washington Court House and Washington Police Department for assisting with putting these signs in place as a way to bring awareness to drivers and encourage them to slow down.
“It helps make it safer as a lot of students walk to school or go (to businesses) across the street,” he said.
Essentially, the signs register the speed of cars driving by and show that number on the screen with a reminder to “slow down” if driving too fast.
There are two new courses this year. One of those courses, a STEM engineering course, is the fourth in a series of engineering courses the school has been adding.
The other course is an AP Computer Science course, which many students showed interest in wanting last school year.
While WHS held its first day Wednesday, other schools in the district will have their first days next week.
Washington Middle School’s first day for all students is on Monday, Aug. 23.
Belle Aire Intermediate School and Cherry Hill Primary School students will have their first day in the classroom on Tuesday, Aug. 24.
Kindergartners at Cherry Hill with last names beginning with “A-M” will attend school on Tuesday, Aug. 24, and “N-Z” students will attend on Wednesday, Aug. 25. All kindergartners will attend together beginning on Thursday, Aug. 26.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.