By ANTHONY SPAULDING
Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School
SPARTA — The pride of Pope John XXIII Regional High School is already in full force.
On Wednesday, seniors, juniors and sophomores returned to Pope John for the first day of the 2018-2019 school year, the 63rd school year for the Catholic academic institution on the corner of Andover Road and Sparta Avenue.
“There was a lot of vitality today,” Pope John XXIII Regional High School President Father McHugh said. “It was wonderful to see all of the seniors come in this morning, followed by the juniors and sophomores. We are all off to a wonderful start.”
“It was great to see everyone back,” Pope John XXIII Regional High School Principal Mr. Gene Emering said. “This doesn’t feel like a job when the students are excited like this. This is what propels you to keep going. This is a true vocation. It’s a great place and we are excited for another wonderful year.”
The students spent the first portion of the day doing activities such as having school pictures taken in the New Gymnasium, practicing the school’s evacuation drill and listening to the rules and regulations. In the last half of the day, they attended all nine class periods that they will have for this year.
But, this day had different meanings for every grade and every student.
For the senior students, it was the last first day of school for their high school career — a day they couldn’t wait to have come but were also shocked that it had arrived at the same time.
“It’s exciting and it’s weird,” Pope John senior Kevin Putsky said. “It feels like yesterday that I was a freshman, but I’m excited for the upcoming year.”
“It’s bitter-sweet,” Pope John senior Carly Chlodnicki said. “It feels so great to be back here, but it is also hard to know that this is the last time around for us.”
In addition, it also meant that all eyes are on them as far as being the prime examples for the entire student body.
“We’re role models to everyone below us,” Putsky said. “We need to lead everyone. We as a class are taking that responsibility seriously and we want to make it a great year for everybody.”
For sophomores like Zachary Moser, they started their first day of school along with the upperclassmen. Last year as freshmen, Moser and his classmates shared the first day of school with the eighth grade students. The freshmen and eighth grade students will start school this year on Sept. 4.
“It’s always good to have new experiences like this,” Moser said. “It’s good to mix with your older peers because you have to do that in your life.”
As for junior Bernadette Wilson, she was beginning her first year at Pope John after transferring from Vernon High School. Wilson said she had some mixed emotions coming into her first day, but the tension started to ease for her as the day progressed.
“It’s been good,” Wilson said. “I was nervous at first, but everyone has been nice and I’m excited to meet new friends.”
Throughout the day, students were happy to see all of their friends after having the last two months off for summer. Some were looking forward to what courses they were taking for this school year. Some were excited about participating in extra-curricular activities and on sports teams as well.
More importantly, they are eager to cherish each of the 180 days they have with each other and making this year one filled with pride.
“I’ve been told to enjoy every last moment because it goes by so quick,” Putsky said. “We’re going to enjoy our time and have fun.”
“Honestly, spending quality time with my friends is important,” Chlodnicki said. “Soon enough, we are going to be going our separate ways, so we want to be as close as possible and make the most of this year.”
For more photos from the first day of school, check out our gallery on Facebook!