YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- The drizzling rain did not dampen the excitement or spirits of Yorktown students and staff on Thursday, the first day of school for the Yorktown Central School District.
School officials called the day a success, with the district's 3,437 students getting to school safely and relatively on time, unpacking their new supplies and finding classrooms clean and ready.
"I am pleased to say that our first day of school, Sept. 1, was a happy, exciting and wonderful experience for our students and staff members," Superintendent of Schools Ralph Napolitano said. "We are always thrilled to have our students back."
Students also took advantage of a longstanding program in the district -- the Big Buddies project, which links incoming freshmen with senior mentors, to help them navigate their new surroundings.
Seth Altman, a social studies teacher, runs the 20-year-old program.
"It's a good way for the ninth-graders to feel comfortable in their new school and for the seniors to mentor their younger classmates and make the transition a smooth one," he said.
The ninth-graders had the building to themselves on Thursday, with sophomores, juniors and seniors starting school on Friday.
Isabella Vo, 17, said she was proud to be a co--president of this year's group.
"I had a Big Buddy and it was great. I knew I wanted to be a Big Buddy when I could," she said.
Ninth graders were indeed asking for directions, studying a map of the high school layout and renewing friendships. They met their Big Buddies and heard pep talks on how to make good choices and make the most of their high school experience.
"The program makes us feel comfortable and welcome," said Luke Ujkaj, who ate lunch with friends Gianluca Micciari and Connor McCarthy.
The new school year has also brought changes in Yorktown facilities, marking the final phase of the approved bond projects in the district. These include a new district sign at the main campus entrance, an updated canopy at the Yorktown High School and a renovated entrance at the Mildred E. Strang Middle School.
Throughout the district, some classrooms and offices were reconfigured, and upgrades were made made to the tennis courts and sports field lighting.
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