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Back-to-school with a twist | Terryville teachers create a memorable start to school

Students went outside, played games, got free gifts, played a scavenger hunt, and got pep talks from the administrative staff at the school.

PLYMOUTH, Connecticut — It wasn’t your typical first day of school at Terryville High School. Instead of going over syllabi and going from class to class, students had an entire day of fun-filled events.

As soon as they got to school and went to their homerooms, an announcement was made over the loudspeaker that it was not going to be a regular first day of school.

Instead, the students went outside, played games, got free gifts, played a scavenger hunt, and got pep talks from the administrative staff at the school.

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It was all planned by a group of teachers over the summer.

“I mean the last year and a half or so with COVID and teaching was a really really tough mix. And so not only was a tough for the teachers but more tough for the students,” said Alex Maslak, a digital media teacher at Terryville High School and also the brainchild of this event. "And we thought you know we need to kind of put a period in that sentence and start a new sentence today."

Maslak pitched the idea to other teachers and eventually brought it to the administration. Other teachers quickly got on board, knowing many students would need a bit of a buffer before starting class.

“I mean I could see it even first thing this morning. It’s still lingering a little bit, that you know seclusion and just kind of being isolated we're here to help facilitate them making relationships,” said Shannon Erickson, a Spanish teacher at Terryville High School who also helped plan the event.

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And for many, it worked. FOX61 spoke with a group of seniors who collectively say they were feeling nervous about coming to school on Monday.

"I was a little bit nervous and just with last year it was super hard on the students and the teachers. So I was a little bit apprehensive about coming in,” said Taylor Barnett, a senior at Terryville High School.

However, when the students got to school and started socializing, many loosened up.

"The kids are engaging with each other, they are talking to each other…you can see that community coming back, you can see that climate coming back. And I can't say how happy I am to see that,” Maslak said.

On top of all the fun, students did still get to meet their teachers and take a look at where their classrooms were. Each class also sat in the auditorium for an overview of things they could get involved in while at school.

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