You may have noticed something different on your drive to work Thursday morning.
For the first time since June, the streets were lined with students, many of them waiting patiently on the sidewalk for a bus to appear or walking hurriedly along Cheshire’s many sidewalks, on their way to class.
It was the first day of the 2019/2020 school year on Thursday, Aug. 29, as Cheshire Public Schools opened their doors and invited students, faculty and staff back from another year. According to school administrators, “opening day” went off without a hitch.
“Everything went great,” said Amy O’Brien, the new principal at Doolittle School. “It was really great to get all of the kids here and to get (the school year) going.”
O’Brien was named principal earlier this summer, replacing former principal Russell Hinckley, who decided to pursue a special education position within the Cheshire School District. O’Brien stated that she spent much of the first day mingling with students around the school, especially in the cafeteria, getting to know everyone.
“There were a lot of smile throughout the day,” she said.
O’Brien credited her staff for helping make the day as successful as possible,
“I am really relying in them. They have done a great job showing me how things have been done here (at Doolittle),” she explained.
One of the traditions with which O’Brien quickly familiarized herself was the New Year’s Eve-like countdown performed before the opening of each new year. Early in the morning, as students gather outside the doors at Doolittle, the entire school community counts down from 10 and then, upon reaching 1, exclaims “Happy New Year,” just as the doors are opened.
Another tradition helps acclimate students to the school, as teachers conduct scavenger hunts throughout the course of the first day in order to familiarize students with the locations of everything from the library to the lavatories.
“All in all, it was a really good, positive day,” said O’Brien.
That sentiment was shared at Cheshire High School, where Principal Dr. Mary Gadd described the first day as “great,” having gone off without any hitches.
“I think the kids had a really wonderful day,” said Gadd.
One of the positives was the weather. The sun was shining in the morning and the temperatures remained comfortable for this time of year.
“I was really happy, especially for the seniors. They had a great day for their ‘senior walk,’” said Gadd, referring to the opening day tradition where members of the senior class, many of whom wear special tee shirts, walk in to Cheshire High School together.
For Gadd, the exciting part of the first day of classes is simply seeing, and hearing, students back in the high school.
“I love hearing the chatter,” she said, with a laugh. “During the summer, it can get a little bit quiet around here, so I love having that energy back in the building.”