SYCAMORE – Students and their parents were greeted by teachers and faculty of North Elementary on the school’s new blacktop to start the 2022-2023 school year Wednesday morning.
“It’s always great to see all of our parents and families here with us on the first day,” said North Elementary Principal Thomas Franks. “Lots of excitement, we love it.”
Franks, who’s starting his fourth year at the school, but 24th in Sycamore School District 427, said this year marks a return to business as usual for the school since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.
“We’re looking forward to a lot of great instructions, a lot of good times and some fun and I think just having some of that normalcy back that we’ve not had in the last few years,” said Franks.
That sentiment was echoed by several Sycamore parents dropping off their students Wednesday.
“I think it’s good for them to be back in school, back into the normal routine,” said April Weydert, mother of three Sycamore students.
“I dropped off my daughter Sarah, she’s going into the fourth grade in Mr. Egan’s class,” said Weydert. “She’s so excited and I’m excited, too. Get some stuff done with the – I have three kids – without my kiddos driving me crazy.”
North Elementary student mother Jessalin Bolmer, said she’ll miss her daughter being home, but is delighted to have her back in school.
“It’s exciting. I like having her home in the summer, we have a lot of fun, but I’m excited for her to learn and go back to school and grow,” said Bolmer. “I always miss her, I love having her home.”
For Shannon Crawford, who’s child met Bolmer’s child through school, it was an emotional morning.
“Second grade, they’re getting bigger and all those emotions that come with it, but very exciting that school gets to start,” said Crawford.
While commuting to the school, Crawford considered her thoughts on the students and families being able to gather outside for the first day of school.
“It was so crazy two years ago that we couldn’t, we weren’t here, we didn’t get to do this.” said Crawford. “So that was part of dropping of this morning, I was like ‘You know...I’m glad we are out here, this is nice.’ I’m refreshed.”
Weydert said she was happy to have the community together. She said she’s most excited about masks not being a requirement in Sycamore schools, and heralded her daughter’s fourth grade teachers.
“Well, we love Mr. Egan. He’s been the fourth grade teacher for my other two kids also,” said Wydert. “She’s excited actually for science class because he has fun experiments for science.”
Stephanie Turner said dropping offer her middle child was a little overwhelming.
“So my oldest daughter went to middle school today and my youngest starts Friday for kindergarten, so I’m just easing into it today.” said Turner. “Very big week today, very very big week.”
Turner said she’s pretty happy with all the protocols that are in place for the school year and said the information that’s been sent out from the district and from the superintendent have been helpful.
“We’re just excited for a fresh start for everybody,” said Turner.
To start the school year off, Franks hopped on top of a picnic table and spoke to the students and their families through a megaphone. He said he was a little nervous in the moment but felt the excitement of the entire school.
“It’s very exciting, it’s a very community based effort and I think with the addition of the Back-to-school Bash, I think that just gives people that passion about coming back to school,” said Franks. “And we have great families here at North, as we do across the district, and I think just them being a part of it has been instrumental to success.”