Hartford students get warm welcome on first day back in school
Some Hartford public schools students were surprised on their first day back at school on Monday by members of Calling All Brothers, who cheered and high-fived students as they walked into Sarah J. Rawson Elementary School.
As school buses started to roll in, Pastor AJ Johnson from Calling All Brothers gathered the crowd to get them ready to cheer for the children. Calling All Brothers is a community group of men from different backgrounds who are dedicated to implementing positive change in underserved communities.
“This is a great opportunity for us to be here and get them excited for school,” Johnson said.
Raylen Durant, who is going into second grade, held on to her mom’s hand as they walked toward the school building among the “cheerleaders.”
“I’m nervous because I’m shy, and I’m going to make new friends and I’m going to have a new teacher,” Raylen Durant said. “But I’m excited. I’m excited for science [classes].”
Her mom, Quiana Durant, was also a little nervous about her daughter being back in school.
“I’m nervous just because I’m used to being with her,” Durant said. “But I know she needs this. I’m nervous and excited for her.”
Fellow Hartford parent Val Burn had just walked his daughter to her first day of kindergarten. He said they didn’t expect such an exciting welcome.
“She like, ‘Let me do this, Dad,’” Burn said. “That’s her style. She do it all. She went through the crowd like three times.”
Burn said he’s keeping a positive outlook on schools starting again, saying that he was impressed with how the school district handled the pandemic.
“They did a great job securing all the protocols and guidelines, I can’t complain,” he said.
As the doors opened, some of the children were eager to go in, but in some cases, parents needed time to digest letting their kids go.
Brandy Hendrix and her daughter, Paige Francisco, waited a moment before stepping into the school building. Paige is going into pre-kindergarten and has been waiting for this moment all summer.
“She’s really smart. She’s been wanting to go for so long, and finally it’s time,” Hendrix said. “I’m a little nervous because this is her first year of school. I’m nervous, but I’m excited for her.”
Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez was up bright and early to greet the children. She said the fact that the school year is starting without a huge cloud of COVID-19 concerns or confusing protocols is a huge plus.
“We want to connect deeply with our students. It feels and sounds different for us already,” she said. “We will continue some of our mitigations. Masks are optional, and we still encourage families to get vaccinated.”