Delaware City Schools returned to classes Wednesday as the 2021-2022 school year began.
Students were reunited this school year as the student body will no longer be divided into cohorts and attend school on different days as they did last year. Instead, students will attend school in person five days a week.
Hayes High School Principal Ric Stranges said students were excited to be back together.
“Students just want to be in school and see their friends and have a good high school experience,” Stranges said. “I think (a good high school experience) is defined by being with your friends, being in school five days a week, having activities like sports, athletics and arts. They want all those things, and we’re going to be able to provide that. I saw their eyes this morning, and it was hopeful that we’re going to be able to get through the year in its entirety with all the activities that they deserve.”
Stranges added the school learned several lessons from the 2020-2021 school year, the chief of which is flexibility.
“Flexibility is the key to success in school and life,” he said. “You have to be able to change on the fly and be ready for situations, and I think the pandemic has allowed us to utilize our skills. (You have to) remain calm. There’s a lot of anxiety about returning. (We’re trying to) provide the opportunities to not only form relationships and connections but a sense a trust, then students can believe in what we’re doing.”
Stranges said the previous school year also taught him to be grateful.
“At least we’re here five days a week with a full compliment of students, and I’m grateful that we can do this,” he said. “The importance of being together, being in school, and human contact is critical. Being in school is so important to our kids and our staff.”
Stranges said the student body has made him proud and has risen to the challenge of education during a pandemic.
“(Students) exceeded my expectations,” he said. “I’m always proud of our staff, that includes custodial and maintenance … The landscape will continue to change, and I think the fact that we have a lot of people looking out for us, from the health district, the school board, to the district administration is in many ways comforting.”
Superintendent Heidi Kegley said she visited several schools during the first day of classes, and she hopes the year feels more normal for students.
“It has been a wonderful start to the 2021-2022 school year,” she said. “As I visited each of the buildings, the students and staff were all excited to see each other and reconnect! We sincerely hope our students experience a year filled with more normalcy. A year where they grow academically and are able to participate in clubs and activities.”