Kids in Newark head back to school, ready to tackle the new school year

Toni Yates Image
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
City of Newark welcomes students back-to-school amid heat advisory
Toni Yates has more on how the city of Newark is keeping students safe and cool on their first day back at school.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- The first day of school meant starting with a greeting from Newark Schools Superintendent Roger Leon. The district welcomed back tens of thousands of students to school Tuesday.

Avon Avenue School's staff was fully prepared for first-day issues and ensured everyone was registered and going to the right classrooms.

One major issue impeding the first day back to school is the heat.

Temperatures hit 90 in some parts of New Jersey Tuesday, which meant no outdoor activities for students at Avon Elementary School.

"For recess today instead of coming outside we stayed inside in our rec room where it's ventilated, it has air. So all the kids are safe," said Principal Kinyetta Bird.

Safety is top of mind for Superintendent Leon.

"Across the district we have been making major adjustments in our schools. Obviously, our new school buildings don't have an issue in regard to that," said Leon. "In other situations, we have just learned to do some monitoring and adjusting as it relates to the weather."

Not only was it the first day of school for students, but for the brand-new Nelson Mandela Elementary School in the Central Ward, it was its first day in use.

That's where some Pre-K newbies seemed quite happy with their new surroundings.

"I love reading," said Renzo, 3 years old. "'Pete the Cat,' it's right here."

Parents were happy to drop them off and say "See you later."

"Feels wonderful they were ready for school. I feel great," said Dion McNeill, a parent.

From Pre-K to high school, Leon says he's determined to see SAT scores soar, absenteeism plummet, and student achievement expand.

"Our numbers over the last three decades are the highest they've ever been and we want to keep increasing that for 2023," Leon said.

One part of that plan was recruiting Ryan Silver to lead Mandela Elementary. A former principal in the South Bronx, Silver is elated to return to the city where he was born and raised.

A key goal is "academic excellence. We will be known for prowess in this city," Silver said.

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