‘Excited to see our students back’: The Sherman School opens Monday for its first day

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

SHERMAN — Eight-year-old Julia Hillmann, who arrived Monday morning at The Sherman School, appeared excited to be there.

She said she’s looking forward to the third grade.

“I want to see my friends and read,” said Julia, whose mother Shaela Hillmann teaches special education at the school.

Julia was one of about 260 students in grades K-8 who started school in Sherman on Monday, Aug. 30. Pre-K students will start Sept. 8.

“We have the red carpet rolled out for students,” said School Superintendent and Principal Jeff Melendez. “We’re playing music and just excited to see our students back.”

A handful of buses arrived at the front of the school around 8 a.m., with many students being driven by their parents prior to that time.

Wearing a yellow-flowered dress with a purple backpack, Riley Brook Rooney, 4, said she’s looking forward to starting kindergarten,“making new friends” and “learning.”

Ten-year-old Joseph Peburn, who was playing on the playground, said he enjoys recess and meeting new people and having a lot of fun at recess playing basketball.

Joseph’s friend and classmate, Dylan Quinby, who is also 10, said the school made some “modifications” over the summer. “I saw the gym got a giant banner, and they put new banners on the flagpoles.”

He said he “really clicked” with his previous teacher, Mrs. Linero.

“She liked Harry Potter, I liked Harry Potter. We both loved reading,” he said.

Third-grader Trinity McGlothin, 9, said school is “amazing,” and that she can’t wait “to do subtraction and addition.”

Debbie Seiden, a paraprofessional, said she’s “looking forward to a more normal” school year, in regard to the pandemic.

“We didn’t have recess last year in the mornings. We didn’t have lunch in the cafeterias, so I’m looking forward to this year,” Seiden added.

Ken Palmer, who teaches fifth grade, said he has 16 students in his classroom and is positive about the year ahead.

“I think that we’re going to do the best that we can, just like we did last year,” Palmer said. “We’re a very nice tight knit community, in the way that we all band together.”

In regard to COVID-19, The Sherman School is following state guidelines, according to Melendez. The state’s Executive Order mandates masks must be worn in school and on buses. Masks are optional when outdoors.

Additionally, vaccinated teachers are permitted to remove their masks while actively teaching and maintaining 6 feet of physical distance from students. Students are required to wear their masks at all times while inside the building through at least Sept. 30.

Every teacher must be vaccinated on or before Sept. 27. According to Melendez, there are two exemptions that can be applied to these guidelines — one is for medical reasons and the other is for a religious or spiritual belief. Melendez said he will take those on a case by case basis.

“The reopening plan is our attempt to implement the executive orders and how we address each type of issue,” Melendez said.