Tonawanda News

September 5, 2013

'Always an adventure'

Students at NT, City of Tonawanda districts head back to school

By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Students in the North Tonawanda and City of Tonawanda school districts headed back to class Wednesday, some of them nervous, some of them excited — and many a mix of both.

On Miller Street in North Tonawanda, students William, Quinn and Morgan Manth paused before heading off to Meadow Elementary School. Mom Michelle Manth snapped photographs while dad Marc Manth and little sister Fallon, 3, looked on.

While William, starting the fourth grade, wasn’t very enthused about the day at all, new kindergartner Morgan was excited to meet friends in her class and learn how to count all the way to 100. 

Quinn, 6, is starting second grade, made up for her brother’s lack of enthusiasm.

“I’m just excited about everything,” she said.

At Meadow itself, children and parents lined up at the doors waiting for the school day to begin. New kindergartner Hannah Talarico showed off her Barbie backpack and her sparkly purple skirt.

Hannah was excited about making new friends and learning to tie her shoes, she said. This, while her mother, Amber Talarico, said she was “just trying to hold it together.”

Older students congregated at another entrance, including Brianna Durfey, 9, who was starting fourth grade and looking forward to joining chorus for the first time.

“They didn’t get much sleep last night,” said mom Jennifer Durfey of Brianna and her sister. “They were up putting out their outfits for this morning. Today’s probably going to be the earliest they wake up for the entire school year, because they were so excited.”

Once the doors opened and the crowd started pouring inside, Meadow Principal Janet Matyevich waited near the bus entrance, greeting students and dealing with the million small issues that crop up during the great return.

“I’m looking forward to an awesome school year,” she said. “We have great families in North Tonawanda. It’s a little different from last year, when we were consolidating three different buildings. It’s been much smoother this year.”

The year is not without its challenges. This marks the first full year districts throughout the state (and United States) are adopting the new, more narrowly focused standards for learning called Common Core.

Matyevich said the school is ready. 

“We just have to work smarter,” she said. “We’ve been studying data from last year and trying to look at what we need. Just trying to refine what we’re doing.”

As the school day ended at Fletcher Elementary School in the City of Tonawanda, Lucille Bauer, 9, talked about her first day of fourth grade with her mom, Melissa Guido, while showing off her new shoes and Tinker Bell bag.

Bauer admitted that fourth grade is “a little harder, we do harder math and reading. But I love it.”

Guido said her daughter couldn’t wait to go back to class.

“We love the Tonawanda School District,” she said. “They’re great. It’s a wonderful city.”

As the building slowly emptied, Fletcher Principal John McKenna, who waited outside making sure students were safely on their buses, said the first day back had gone well.

“It’s always an adventure,” he said. “Let’s put it that way. The kids were very excited to come back to school and it’s good to see. I like that enthusiasm.

“They enjoy getting back to class, they enjoy seeing their friends. It’s great to see how they all get back to it very fast.”

Classes at schools in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda district, as well as at many local Catholic schools, start today.