The freshly painted doors of Quashnet Elementary School opened up this week to eager students, who bounded inside to see their friends, meet their teachers and begin the year.
“We’re very excited. It’s a fresh start,” said Robert Greggerson, a 5th grade teacher. “The school looks great, [and] we’re just ready to get started.”
Renovations at the Quashnet School began last spring and are nearly complete, although workers remain on-site to finish the job. The project included installation of a fresh roof and new windows throughout the building, as well as updates to the school bathrooms, which have made them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The library also got a face-lift, and a truckload of new furniture arrived two weeks ago.
As students came to school Tuesday morning, September 4, the 5th and 6th graders gathered in the gym where the teachers were waiting, holding up signs marked with their names. Small groups of children collected around their new teachers, and a chorus of “Hi!” “Hello, hello!” “Good Morning!” “Welcome” filled the room.
Pushing open the exterior door to the gym, Principal MaryKate O’Brien plucked a “no public access” sign off the wall. The school motto for the year, she said, is flexibility, a theme echoed by several teachers.
Quashnet had to cancel its “Sneak-a-Peek” event, where families get to visit the school, which Ms. O’Brien said was disappointing, but she commended the crews and custodial staff who ensured the building was ready for Day One.
“I am looking forward to having the best year yet in Mashpee,” she said. “We have a beautiful new building. We have the best kids … an amazing staff,” she said.
“[The first day] is exciting,” 4th grade teacher Colleen Stroshine said. “The kids are nervous, but I think the teachers are too.”
“We’re going to live through the construction for a little bit longer, but it’s going to be wonderful,” she said.
One 5th grader, Nevah, said, of the first day, “It’s kind of worrying, but then it’s exciting.”
Fourth graders—and best friends—Lily and Addison were a little nervous, too, but thrilled to have each other in their class, exactly one year after meeting on their first day of 3rd grade.
Ms. O’Brien said she was looking forward to another year of helping students to grow and discover.
“It is the best time of year,” she said
Mashpee Middle High School and the Kenneth C. Coombs School also began their school year Tuesday, except for the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, who arrived Wednesday.
For Mashpee, this will be the last first-day of school before the district’s start times shift 30 to 45 minutes later next year. The move, based on the science of adolescent sleep habits, follows in the wake of similar schedule shifts by the Nauset and Monomoy school districts on the Lower Cape.