Sep. 7, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
Thursday marked the return to school for students across Queens after the summer break.
In the lead-up to the Sept. 7 return, leaders across the borough have been giving away backpacks and school supplies to students and families in need.
According to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City will be making a historic shift this school year in how reading will be taught through NYC Reads. This initiative is meant to bring proven, evidence-based English Language Arts curricula into classrooms.
Adams is optimistic that this initiative will better teach students in Queens and across the city how to decode words. Even those with a below-average reading comprehension would then have the skills and foundation necessary to better be able to sound out new words and understand new material.
Another new element being introduced this school year are mindful breathing techniques. These exercises are meant to help calm the students’ minds, improve their focus and help them better deal with stressful situations.
Adams also noted that more than 80 school cafeterias across the city have been enhanced, allowing for kids to better socialize with each other. This also comes with more diverse meal options, including plant-based meals and halal meals. These options allow kids to eat healthy while also maintaining their culture or faith.
One mother, Erica Parilla, was seen walking her 14-year-old son to the front gate for his first day at Information Technology High School in Long Island City. Parilla said he previously attended school in the Lower East Side of Manhattan so he doesn’t know any of his fellow students at his new school.
“He’s super nervous because he’s small [in size], so he’s really nervous,” Parilla said. “I’m nervous for him, I’m sad but I’m also hopeful.”
Meanwhile, student Michael Altamirano,17, traveled an hour from Flushing to attend his first day of class for the new semester.
“I’m pretty excited, it’s my final year,” Altimirano said.
He told QNS he hopes to graduate and then go on to college to study software engineering.
Brendan McCormack, a teacher at Information Technology for the last four years, said that he too was excited for the school year and that fellow educators and staff have been preparing for the new semester over the last few days. “This year I feel good, I feel awesome, I feel excited,” said McCormack, who teaches math and is also a special education teacher. “We’ve adopted a bunch of new safety regulations and policies so as far as that goes I’m feeling a lot safer in the building. I’ve already interacted with a lot of students this morning so the feeling is mutual. So yeah things are going well.”
QNS had reporters stationed across the borough to document Queens’ students return to school. This post will be updated throughout the day.