By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City students in the primary, intermediate and high schools were definitely ready for the first day of school Tuesday, judging by the smiles, conversations and just the upbeat mood of the kids and the faculty.
In the morning, students were greeted to celebrations unique to each of their schools. There was music. There were balloons. There were welcoming committees made up of faculty.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Scott McCartney stopped by the schools in the morning and also at dismissal to see how things were going and to make sure the 2023-24 school year was starting off right. The school district is made up of students from Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Upper Township, Corbin City and Longport.
“From all accounts, it was a great start to the school year. I saw a lot of happy students and an excited and eager staff to greet them,” McCartney said. “The weather could not have been more perfect, and I am thrilled with how day one got off to a great start.”
Atea Loesch, of Upper Township, had a lot to be happy about on the first day of school. It was not only the start of her senior year, but her best friend, Angelina McMenamin, of Ocean City, transferred to Ocean City High School from Our Lady of Mercy Academy, a private high school in Newfield.
“All of my friends go here. It just feels right,” McMenamin said.
Billy Padula, of Ocean City, smiled as he stopped to speak with High School Principal Dr. Wendy O’Neal before hopping on the bus.
Then he said, “It’s the first day of my junior year. It’s a good day. Everyone is positive. Everyone is happy.”
Like McCartney, O’Neal said the day proved successful.
“I’m very proud of the fact that the faculty, staff and students had a good first day,” O’Neal said. “Everyone was willing to help. An upper-level student saw a ninth-grade student having trouble and asked if they wanted help. That is what it is all about. That really touched me.”
Intermediate School Principal Mike Mattina was busy with the students on their first day.
Like every year, Mattina and other faculty greeted the students warmly and with welcoming balloons in the school colors of red and white. A huge “Welcome Back” back sign was prominently displayed on the front lawn of the school.
Primary School students were greeted by Principal Dr. Cathy Smith and her team. A warm welcoming followed for the children.
When it was time for the children to once again see their parents and guardians, school staff assisted them, walking the little ones over to their loved ones. There were plenty of smiles.
Representatives from the Ocean City Tabernacle’s Son Club, an after-school program, greeted students who participate in the program.
Some of the children hugged the staff as they walked to the Tabernacle grounds together for activities that included homework to shooting hoops, among fun things.
Ocean City family members Jane Custer and her daughter, Tiffany Park, and her children, Fallon, 7, and 4-year-old son Colson, beamed as they chatted about the first day.
“It was a good day,” Fallon said of her first day in second grade.
For Colson, his paper hat said it all: “I rocked the first day of school.”
Ocean City police officers were on hand at all three schools to direct traffic and ensure the safety of the students and faculty.
Board of Education President Chris Halliday said there was much to celebrate, and credit is owed to the many dedicated people who are responsible for the first day’s success.
“All of us at the Ocean City Board of Education share in the back-to-school excitement with our students, families and staff,” Halliday said. “We appreciate the dedication of our administrators, teachers, custodians and staff who worked tirelessly over several weeks to prepare for our students’ return. We look forward to a wonderful year of teaching and learning.”
For more information about the Ocean City School District, visit oceancityschools.org