CENTREVILLE — Excited students and teachers returned for the first day of school this week — some of them back in the building for the first time in over 18-months. “I am excited to have come full circle,” shared Cassandra Cornish, principal at Kent Island Elementary.

Cornish said she taught her very first lesson at KIES as a first-grade teacher many years ago, “The building has changed and so have I, but the one thing that remains the same is my love for the students and this profession. Our theme this year is ‘Striving and Thriving’ and the teachers, staff, and myself are committed to exerting all of our efforts and positive energy into the students and one another in order for us to grow and develop as one school community.”

There are just over 7,000 students in the Queen Anne’s County Public School system and having the majority of those back in the classroom was reason for excitement. Superintendent of QACPS, Dr. Patricia Saelens stated, “I was thrilled to be able to visit all 14 schools in our district. Seeing the excitement of students and staff was energizing! Our buildings are alive right now. We are looking forward to an amazing school year.”

Former Queen Anne’s County High School Principal, now Assistant Superintendent Amy Hudock said, “This is a new school year and we are thrilled to have students return to the buildings — face to face with teachers! All executive team members and supervisors will be visiting schools to greet students as they kick off the 21-22 school year. I hope everyone has a successful academic year!”

QACPS Board of Education President Richard Smith was at Kennard Elementary School Monday morning before children began arriving at 8:30. He commented, “Our goal is to keep these kids in school five-days a week. It’s going to make a big difference!” He added that all of the executive team and school board members would be visiting all the schools during the week.

Overwhelmingly, parents and staff were looking forward to a traditional five-day school week.

Kennard Elementary School Principal Michelle Carey, beginning her sixth year as principal at Kennard, and 11th year as principal in the county said, “We’re getting a nice, fresh start to the school year, and looking forward to seeing our students smiling faces five-days a week!”

Notably, all staff and students arriving at KES, along with other schools across the county, Monday morning were wearing face masks without hesitation. Many staff members were outside the school building holding up signs to guide students to the correct areas to enter the building with little to no confusion and unnecessary contact or mingling of students.

Kennard PTA President Carol Trader was also outside handing out small gift bags of appreciation to school bus drivers on the first day of school. The bags also included a warm breakfast sandwich.

The students appeared to be ready and happy to return to school as they entered the building. They were especially happy to being seeing the friends.

Staff reporters Doug Bishop and Luke Parker contributed to this story.

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