‘It was chill’: Mahar students adjust to first day back, with masks

  • Buses leave Mahar Regional School on the first day of school Monday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/30/2021 5:04:07 PM

ORANGE – Monday was the closest to normal that Ralph C. Mahar Regional School students have experienced since March 13, 2020, when the institution was closed in an attempt to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Students roamed the halls carrying backpacks and conversing with one another on the first day of school, the building’s busiest day in about 17 months.

“It’s been a while. So, they’re a little rusty on certain things, but I really do think that the kids were excited to be here,” High School Principal Scott Hemlin said at 2 p.m. over the thunderous roar of students chatting and walking as they left at the end of the day. “Our teachers, really, are focusing on the start, with reestablishing the relationships that we’ve lost over the course of time. Last year was all hybrid and remote and it was a challenge for everybody.”

The Ralph C. Mahar Regional School Committee voted two weeks ago to begin the academic year requiring students, staff and visitors to wear masks indoors. The committee plans to revisit the issue at its September meeting.

Eighth-grader Emma Ames, who attends the middle school, said the masks are a nuisance but everyone seemed to handle it.

“It was chill,” she said after school, waiting for volleyball practice to start. “It’s kind of annoying, but I get yelled at if I don’t, so I might as well.”

Tenth-graders Jeffrey LaPlante and Michael Gemelli said the mask-wearing was the only aspect different about starting school this year.

“It was better than last year,” LaPlante said. “There was a little more back-to-normal, asides for the masks there’s not much else that’s different.”

Both said the day went smoothly and they weren’t aware of any issue — disciplinary or otherwise — in the school.

LaPlante and Gemelli said they are interested in starting a new extracurricular activity because their sport — cross country — was dropped due to budget cuts. Golf was also cut.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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