Return to normalcy marks new school year

Students at Fort Clark Middle School bus pickup
Students at Fort Clark Middle School's bus pickup at the end of the first day of the 2022-23 school year. (Photo by Taryn Ashby)
Fort Clark Middle School students talking outside
Photo by Taryn Ashby Fort Clark Middle School students talking outside at the end of the first day of the 2022-23 school year.

The morning noises of August are typically that of clunky lawn mowers, birds loudly chirping, and who can forget the infamous sound of alarm clocks? Kids throughout Alachua County joined that racket Wednesday morning on the first day of the 2022-2023 school year.  

From picking out the first day of school outfits to packing school supplies in backpacks, students of all ages are heading back to the classroom.  

The smiles and laughter were contagious as students reunited with familiar faces. Some may argue that the enthusiastic students smiled bigger and laughed louder as the dismissal bell rang, all signs that the first day of school was a success.  

“It went smoothly,” said history teacher and Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe in a phone interview. “We had a lot of school spirit today, and the students seemed like they really were excited to get back. We are getting back to some sort of normal, so that’s good.”  

Normal is not a word that described the last two years, as different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered the back-to-school landscape. Gone are Zoom teaching sessions and the mask wars of 2021, and back are the typical rhythms of a new school year. 

“I think the major differences between this year and the past couple of years is that we are getting back to how we used to do things,” Marlowe said. “Field trips, pep rallies, those types of things. It is important to remind them that school has a lot of fun elements, where we can socialize. That is going to be the most notable difference.”  

The first day is here and gone with only 179 school days remaining for the students in Alachua County. And if it’s anything like today, teachers, staff, and students should enjoy a smooth, successful, and fun school year.  

Fort Clark Middle School students waiting for the bus
Photo by Taryn Ashby Fort Clark Middle School students waiting for the bus on Wednesday.
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