Greenfield Exempted Village School District staff, teachers and administrators joined together in the auditorium Monday for the annual opening day session to kick off the new school year. Where last year’s opening session was dominated by the uncertainty of what the school year, and life in general, would look like amid a pandemic, this year’s session reflected an optimism and enthusiasm for a new year with less restrictions.
McClain Marching Band members lined the auditorium aisles and the drums filled the stage as they played a welcome to start things off which got everyone on their feet to clap along. Next, the colors were presented by the McClain Cadet Corps with the audience joining in for the national anthem.
Superintendent Quincey Gray talked about accomplishments over the summer, reminding everyone to focus on what they were able to accomplish rather than what was not accomplished.
The sentiment segued into some takeaways from one thing Gray accomplished, and that was reading at least one book that was not related to education. From that book was gleaned the tenets of living life, being mindful of what we mean to others, and enjoying life.
She talked about last year, the year of restrictions and not knowing whether in-person classes would be able to continue from week to week. However, the school was able to remain open all year long.
“We did it,” she said. “We made it last year and it’s because of all of you.”
She shared an anecdote from a recent encounter with a member of the community who thanked her and all involved who had a part in making sure the schools in the district stayed open for in-person classes. The person’s nephew needs school, Gray was told, and had a great year.
It’s a reminder of the importance of in-person school, Gray said, and a reminder of the impact that each of them have daily.
Gray also thanked the school board members, support teams, and the maintenance and custodial staff, the latter of which have accomplished much through the summer months even with other major projects going on in the district.
So, “how do we tackle this year,” she asked, acknowledging there are unknowns, but that there are always the things that remain true. Those are to always be present and engaged, to be transparent and communicate, to prioritize, for the staff to enjoy what they do because it is so easy to get caught up in the minutiae and forget the joy of it and why they began their paths, and lastly to always be their best.
As to COVID-19, things will continue to be day-to-day and will continuously be monitored. At this point, masks are recommended, but will be voluntary except when on school transportation where masks are mandatory. As with everything over the last year and half, the recommendations are subject to change depending on the circumstances and the guidance of health officials. For the current plan for the 2021-22 school year regarding Covid, go to greenfield.k12.oh.us/ then mouse over the “Our District” tab. From the drop-down menu, go to the “GEVSD 2021-2022 Covid-19 Plan.”
Buckskin Principal Mike Shumate introduced all the new incoming staff and reminisced a bit about his own interview for a principal’s position nearly 30 years ago when he was taken on a tour of the campus. He said he had never seen anything like the Greenfield campus before and thought, “I want to be a part of this.”
Following the recognition of the new hires came a student club highlight, presented by Drug Free Clubs of America officers Braden Wright and Madysen Sykes. The club is designed to protect and inspire kids to live drug-free and offers many incentives to students in the club.
Staff were recognized for years of service milestones. Those were: 10 years — Shelley Smith, Marcia Starkey and Christy Wagner; 15 years — Kelly Bolender, Emma Gall, Rhonda Hollis, Kelly Howard, April Molloy and Andrea Wilson; 20 years — Tracey Cokonougher, Krista Crouse, Kris Davis, Suanne Edwards, Angie Johnson, Carrie Payton, Jeff Pence and Jayme Weller; and 25 years — Dorothy Balzer, Mandy Binegar, Randy Closson, Amy Cockrell, Debbie Flowers and Tracy Mongold.
There were updates and information regarding staff-related committees from the teachers that will head them up for the year.
Students in grades 1-12 return to the classroom on Aug. 19. Preschool and kindergarten students begin next week.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.