Freeporter Isabel Willocks, a seventh-grader at J.W. Dodd Middle School, hugged her two binders tightly as she walked beside her father, Oneal Willocks, on the first day of school, Tuesday.
“I’m not nervous,” she told her dad as he put his arm around her shoulder.
Turning the corner near the middle school, Isabel gave him a quick hug and hurried to join her classmates already gathered behind the fence.
“I think she’s nervous about her locker,” Oneal said, as he watched his daughter head into the schoolyard. “Once she figures out her locker, I think she’ll be OK.”
The school year started on Sept. 5 in the Freeport School District. Parents and students were seen milling about the schools gearing up for a first day of introductions. Parents and students lined up in front of the Bayview Avenue School.
Kevin and Jennifer Curry, parents of kindergartener Jessica, waited patiently in line to enter the school. Jessica is the first of their four children to start kindergarten in Freeport.
“This is a new adventure. She’s coming from day care,” Jennifer said. “She’s going to ‘big girl’ school now. We moved to Freeport about five years ago, and our two other daughters are a little bit older. So this year, we’re looking forward to being [part of Freeport schools] from the very beginning. We love it.”
Once the school doors opened, students began to crowd the halls. With a smile, Jessica rested her hands on the straps of her bookbag. Mesmerized, she looked in every direction of the hallway. Instructed to follow one of the teachers to her classroom by Principal Mary Garguilo, she walked down the hall, eager to meet her teacher.
“It’s thrilling to see the children come in,” Gargulio said. “They’re very excited to be back to school, eager to learn, bright-eyed and happy. It’s a great experience for everyone.”
Across town, Freeport High School students were sitting in homeroom reviewing class schedules and expectations for the new school year. Senior Rossy Baiz sat quietly, reviewing her class schedule and jotting down notes, as her classmates recapped their summer experiences. Senior John Meyveci, a football player who celebrated his 18th birthday on the first day of school, said he was relieved to start his senior year.
“I know that I’ll have a lot more responsibilities this year,” Meyveci said. “I’m really looking forward to this year. It’s been a long three, four years, with a lot of work and lessons learned. I’m ready to jump right in.”
Once the bell rang, homeroom began, marking the official start of the school year.
“We’re looking forward to continuing the great work that we’ve done in this past,” Freeport High School Principal Joseph Mille said.