HOLDEN, Mass. — After spending years in three different schools across Holden, new sixth-graders came together at Mountview Middle School on Tuesday morning on the Wachusett Regional School District's opening day.
Mountview Principal Erik Githmark said that the staff worked together to ensure the students would start their school year smoothly in a much larger school, surrounded by many unfamiliar faces.
"A successful start to the year is that kids all have their correct schedules, they know who their homeroom teachers are, and they see some smiling, welcoming faces in the adults here so that they feel like they're part of the community right away and know they've got our support," he said.
Now in his third year at Mountview, Githmark said this was the nicest start of the school year because he already had built relationships with two of the three grades of students.
"It's a great position to be in, to know 500 kids real well," he said. "Now my job is to get to know the other 250 new kids."
The school faces a new challenge, he said, as district budget cuts left the library without staffing.
"The challenge right now is to work on a plan for teachers to access the materials and computers in that space, because it's still a great area to do research and learn," Githmark said. "But, at the same time, we need to work on getting parent volunteers to work with us to check out and return books and help supervise that area. It's such a great resource that we don't want to shut down."
Across town, kindergarten students stepped off the bus for the first time at Davis Hill Elementary, many with their parents waiting there to photograph the momentous occasion. While there were a few tears, both from parents and children, Principal Mark Aucoin said the start also went "exceptionally smooth."
Between the well-attended open houses earlier in August, a June kindergarten orientation and letters sent to students from their teachers, families had a head start at getting to a comfort level before the big day.
"I love when the year begins, and seeing the changes in kids — how they matured over the summer," said Aucoin. "And then the kids teach all of us a lot as they enter the building. Their experiences over the summer, the books they read and their levels teach us and guide us on how we're going to pace our year."