Evanston middle and elementary schoolers showed up for the first day of school Wednesday, Aug. 24, in high spirits. The Roundtable sent a reporter to Chute Middle School and Washington Elementary to capture the energy of the youth and their parents as the school year kicks off. 

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Griffin Robert Sferruzza is a Chute Middle School sixth grader. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

Classes at Chute began at 8 a.m. Gangly, surprisingly tall, pubescent kids descended from school buses and their parents’ cars to congregate on the front yard of the school, divided by grade level and awaiting instruction from the principal.

Griffin Robert Sferruzza, a new Chute sixth grader, said, “I’m excited. I’m ready to go for sixth grade.” What is Sterruzza most looking forward to? “The independence, and getting to manage my homework for each class,” he said with confidence. 

His mother, Ana, looked on with a wide smile and said she felt nervous about the first day but mostly proud. “I’m proud of how he got himself ready to this day. And I’m proud of how he prepares and how he thinks of others. And how he’s going to bring that to school today.”

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Caleb Hardy is a Chute Middle School seventh grader. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

Caleb Hardy, a seventh grader, was smiling for photos in the parking lot while his mother Crystal Haynes, snapped flicks. Hardy said he wore his first-day shirt only once before, and his jeans were new, so he thought to pair them together for yesterday’s start. 

Hardy’s mother said that they started preparing for school a few weeks ago (“getting back into the groove of things going back to bed early and things like that.”) She seemed as excited as the students as she tagged along and walked him to the field where students were gathering. 

A few middle schoolers ran past eagerly looking for their friends, and a mother, wielding a camera behind them, yelled out  “I hope y’all running to y’all classes like that!” 

Over at Washington Elementary – where classes started at 9 a.m.- the morning was a bit more subdued. But it was still clear this was the first day.

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Maximo, a Washington Elementary School first grader, with his dad, Armando Bocarando. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

Armando Bocarando dropped off his two sons at Washington this morning. But he had only his first grader, Maximo, with him when Bocarando spoke to the Roundtable. 

Bocarando works as a chef in a restaurant in Old Town in Chicago and was grateful for school. “Yesterday, I took my two kids to my job,” he said with a smile, adding that the kids sat nearby while he finished his workday Tuesday.

Rebecca Weiland, mom of Washington first grader Nora, lightly struggled with her husband to get her daughters to take a first day of school photo in front of the “Washington” sign. Nora’s younger 3-year-old sister tagged along for support, Weiland said. 

Last year, on Nora’s first day of kindergarten she was nervous, her mother said. But this year, she seemed more comfortable. As her mom said this, Nora walked 20-feet away from her mother to jump on the Washington Elementary playground. 

“She seems more comfortable. Like she knows what to expect.”

Debbie-Marie Brown is a reporter and Racial Justice Fellow at the Evanston RoundTable. They cover the local reparations initiative, Black life in Evanston, and the 5th ward. Contact Debbie-Marie at dmb@evanstonroundtable.com...