It’s the first day of school for students at Kingsway Regional and after a year and a half of virtual learning behind them, they are more than ready for it.
With the unusual course that the past two years have taken, many argue that the school year will have two years’ worth of freshman instead of just one. This comes as the result of the limited amount of time the Class of 2024 was able to spend in their new school last year, leaving them just as dazed and confused as the incoming Class of 2025 behind them.
“Just try and have fun. Not everything is about being liked by everyone or being popular. If you have a solid group of people, that’s all you’ll ever need,” notes Juliana Mendek, junior, in her heartfelt advice to the grades below her.
Others wish to impart more practical wisdom such as, “Make sure you obtain a map of the school, and especially one for the buses, which can be difficult to locate when you are new”.
On Aug. 5, the district announced that the daily start time of classes will be pushed back exactly 30 minutes from what they were during the 2019-2020 school year. While the school’s email to students and parents was enthusiastic, many students believe that the change will not be beneficial to them this year.
“I feel like 30 minutes is not enough time to make a change in productivity amongst students. If school start time was pushed back by an hour or so, the school would see a more positive impact,” claims Zachary Lorch, junior.
However, if the school were to push back start times even further, it would create numerous other implications regarding athletics, extracurriculars, and shared transportation with Swedesboro Woolwich School District.
For high schoolers, the new start time will be 7:54 a.m. with dismissal at 2:28 p.m., and for the middle school, class will begin at 8 a.m. with dismissal at 2:38 p.m. Although the time in school is shorter by a few minutes, instructional time will not be impacted with the addition of a structured study component during morning arrival.
Junior, Mathias Alexander believes, “The later start time will affect everyone differently depending on how their mornings would typically operate. For example,” he said, “I pack my lunch in the morning, so I will have more time to put that together rather than having to rush to get out the door”.
The new schedule will also revive Smart Lunch, a unique feature that students enjoyed pre-pandemic. Smart Lunch consists of L1 and L2, times when students can not only eat their lunch, but also meet up with friends, study for upcoming assessments, or ask teachers for a little bit of extra help if they are struggling.
“I am excited to have longer lunches again since I have ample time to complete the work for my classes. Before Covid I used smart lunch to socialize and complete assignments for my classes. I intend to do the same this year,” expressed Lorch.
Patrick Neyer, sophomore, never experienced Smart Lunch but claims he is excited to have the extra time ‘he’ never had pre-Covid and plans to use it to get work done early.
For the most part, students are thrilled to be headed back to school this year, but the return also comes with some nerves.
“On a scale of 1-10 of how nervous I am for this school year it would be a 9. It’s my junior year, and I’ve been told this year will be the most vital to my future. I can’t stop worrying that I won’t be able to keep up,” notes Mendek.
One major difference between this year and prior school years that students were able to articulate is their appreciation for the little things they love about Kingsway that they took for granted before.
“A few small things that I took for granted before COVID were seeing people’s faces, sharing things, sitting near each other, access to resources and teacher help, and food parties,” explains Mendek.
Others share Mendek’s thoughts while also noting that they are looking forward to seeing their friends at lunch because their lunch time last year was distant, in classrooms, and silent for the most part due to the awkwardness of the situation.
Whatever students are looking forward to this year, one thing is for certain and that is that they are glad to be back to a structure that is more normal than what they experienced during the 2020-2021 school year. They are trading in zoom calls for desks, keyboards for pencils, and the stress of a virtual learning environment for the smiles that come with being together in-person once again.
By Audrey Pachuta