The 2022-2023 school year began Thursday for students in the Delaware City School District, and Hayes High School Principal Dr. Ric Stranges said he’s never seen more smiles at the school.
Stranges, who is in his 10th year at Hayes, said Thursday he “still gets goosebumps” on the first day of school. He added the start of the school year felt different this time around.
“It feels like there’s a different energy,” he said. “This year, I saw more smiles than I have ever (before.) I think students … are excited to come back to Hayes. I know our teachers are really excited. The last three years we’ve wondered (about school), but this year there’s a hopefulness for some normalcy, and I think school provides that.”
Stranges said there’s an emphasis on “safety and security” this year, and students will be issued ID badges that will be required to be worn during school hours.
In spite of the changes, Stranges said students and staff are looking forward to what the school year has in store.
“There’s more smiles and more hope,” he said. “Everyone has a sense of hopefulness and I do, too. I think you can feel it and I see it, that sense of optimism. There’s more sense of community.”
Abdullahi Musse, a senior at Hayes, said he was caught off guard by how fast his four years at Hayes have gone by.
“My high school years zoomed,” he said.
Musse agreed with Stranges, adding the school felt more “normal” this year. He said many things have changed since his freshman year, the last “normal” school year.
“It feels kind of good to be back to normal but it really isn’t the same,” Musse said. “Everything is completely different. Some people are actually different and they look different. Even though (my first day of senior year and freshman year) feel a little similar, it’s just not the same because the people have changed and so have I, obviously.”
Musse said he’s looking forward to his new classes this year and hopes to study computer science after he graduates.
Pammy Lowe, a junior, said she enjoyed the first day at Hayes and was happy to see her friends again.
“It’s really nice because I feel like people are more open now,” she said. “It’s nice to have the normalcy. You’re not scared to see what’s going on at school. It’s finally normal.”
Lowe said she is looking forward to studying sociology this year and is excited to be part of the cheer squad.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.