Students talked with friends on a warm, sunny first day of school. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

A sense of optimism and energy permeated the air on Tuesday afternoon as students flowed out the doors of Evanston Township High School on the first full day of the school year. The sight of students talking with friends as they emerged from the building, many of them stopping to chat with Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, was both familiar and new.

Tuesday was the first day of full-time, in-person learning since March of 2019, which made it unlike any other opening day of school.

“Although it was a little hard at first, it was definitely easier just being around all these people. Teachers were nice, friends were helpful. It was just a good environment,” an ETHS sophomore told the RoundTable.

“It was confusing, but it went pretty well,” said another sophomore.

“My day was pretty good. My first period, I had Math. I had a free period where I could get a lot of work done, and I had gym last period. It was a good day,” said an ETHS junior, who added that she was on a remote learning schedule last year.

Superintendent Eric Witherspoon greets students at the close of their first full day of school. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

Dr. Witherspoon can often be seen greeting students as they depart at the end of the school day. When asked how the day went, he did not hesitate.

“It was terrific. Today was the first full day, and it was clearly the first time that we did the Block Schedule. Our students were so cooperative… What really amazed me, is, even with certain levels of confusion, how quickly everybody started to figure it out. So, I was just really happy about it. I think it’s going to work out beautifully this year,” he said.

ETHS students were welcomed back to school on Aug. 16 with optional opening day grade-level luncheons and a condensed schedule. Students in grades 9 and 10 attended classes from 8:15 to 11:05 a.m. Students in grades 11 and 12 were in class from 12:15 to 3 p.m.

Norma Gomez, mother of an ETHS junior, said, “Yesterday was my daughter’s first day of school. She was excited, and she had a fun day.”

Gomez, who is a school bus driver for elementary school students in Evanston/Skokie District 65, said she is also excited about the start of school, which is scheduled for Aug. 24 for District 65 students.

“I always do my best to get the children safely to school, and back home,” she said.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.