“Welcome Back” was chalked out in large, colorful letters at the entrance to Wantagh High School, the first of five buildings to open its doors as the 2023-24 school year began on Sept. 5. There were dozens of other messages leading up to the school like “You are amazing,” “Dream Big” and “Have a great day.”
The messages were written by the Minding Your Minds club, under the direction of teacher Valerie Gompers, to start the school year on a positive note. It seemed to be working as students arrived with smiles at the high school, middle school and three elementary schools.
A positive outlook for the year ahead spanned the entire Wantagh school community. Students were enthusiastically greeted by their principals, assistant principals, central administrators and board of education trustees.
Shane Russo, a 12th grader, is looking forward to the customary senior events and privileges, but first on his mind about the new year is his Advanced Placement Chemistry class. The aspiring engineering has academic success on his mind, but he’d also like to expand his circle of friends in his final year.
Science teacher Samantha Gordon got the year off to a fast start, as her physics students were already performing an experiment about acceleration just minutes into their first period class. The young scientists were doing timed drops off different objects.
Forest Lake Elementary School Principal Thomas Burke was ecstatic for his first day of school back in Wantagh. The former Mandalay and middle school teacher returned to the district after nine years as an administrator in neighboring Seaford. He donned a black and gold tie as he greeted students, also amidst a scene of chalk messages.
A “my first day of kindergarten” photo frame was used to document the day for the new arrivals, while fifth graders completed back-to-school favorites worksheets to find common interests with their new classmates.