Florida students return with smiles, excitement

With renewed enthusiasm, optimism, and happiness, the Florida Union Free School District’s faculty, staff, administration, and Board of Education welcomed children and families back on Sept. 5 to school.

Two people pose with a first day of school frame
S.S. Seward Principal Michael Maesano with Superintendent Dr. Lisamarie Spindler.

The day began with some 400 students, Grades 6 through 12, entering S.S. Seward Institute and receiving high-fives and big smiles from second-year Principal Michael Maesano and his staff.

“There’s never been a time in my career where I have so specifically looked forward to seeing kids that I know,” said Maesano. “I haven’t seen them in two months. I miss them. I was so looking forward to welcoming them at the front door and saying good morning.”

A little while later at Golden Hill Elementary, another 344 youngsters from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 5, many with parents in hand, were given hugs from faculty and first-year Principal Starla Ciarelli. Students and parents were also greeted with colorful words of encouragement on the path leading up to the doors, thanks to the Golden Hills PTA Chalk the Walk project from the previous night.

Three people hold a first day of school frame
Golden Hill Elementary School Principal Starla Ciarelli, school secretary Allison Gill and Kathleen Scheuermann who oversees the front desk.

“Students were very excited to be in school with their teachers and classmates,” said Ciarelli. “The Meet the Teacher for Pre-K and Kindergarten was a success, and the parents were very happy that they were able to come in and meet the teacher and see the classroom. They were also thrilled that there was a bus for the students to go on. Since for most of them, it would be their first time on a bus.”

Board of Education President Rob Andrade, on behalf of the Board, wished all students, faculty, and staff the very best for the school year ahead. “We also extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to our faculty and staff for all that they do to support the students of our school district.”

Helping to welcome the students at the schools and later touring classrooms in both buildings was first-year Superintendent Dr. Lisamarie Spindler.

“Watching students come in their first-day school best, just eagerly waiting, and then right away starting work in their classrooms, engaged in learning, having their worksheets in hand with teachers at projectors, to me as a superintendent shows a lot of planning and preparation that went beyond when school was supposed to start,” said Dr. Spindler. “Every classroom was filled with excitement and love. Teachers standing outside their doors, hugging, high-fiving; it was a warm place. Everyone calls it the `Florida Family’ and we saw that today.”

Board Vice President Robert Scheuermann emphasized the importance of Florida School District’s `Student First’ philosophy. “All of our students are our future. This is why we have created a safe and comfortable learning environment so that all of our students can become lifelong learners and achieve all of their goals in life they desire.”

See more first-day photos here.