Excitement and enthusiasm as the Warden students hit the books

WARDEN – Standing next to the arriving school buses, Warden School Superintendent Scott West is visibly excited.

“That’s what this is about,” he said, giving high-fives to the elementary, middle and high school students as they got off the buses. “It’s a beautiful day for that too – and exciting.”

Wednesday was the first day of school for most of Warden’s 870 expected students – kindergarteners won’t start until next week – and West is happy to have them back. Especially given that it’s the first time since the fall of 2019 that there will be no pandemic restrictions at all, West said. He and his staff are hoping for a normal school year in which parents can get more involved.

“It was nice to wake up this morning and be able to get her ready and take her to school,” Amanda Elizalde said as she dropped her son and niece outside of Warden Elementary School. “We tried to get out the door as quickly as possible.”

“The first day of school is always full of energy and enthusiasm,” said Jill Massa, Director of Teaching and Learning at Warden SD.

Massa said she hopes the end of all restrictions means teachers and students can focus on real learning without distractions.

“That’s the biggest thing we want,” she said.

West said one of the biggest side effects of the pandemic restrictions — masking mandates, social distancing and home learning — has been the effective exile of parents from district activities like gatherings. That has made it difficult for teachers and administrators to maintain the relationships with parents and community that a small district like Warden prides itself on, West said.

“It’s so nice to have a normal event after several years with all this COVID stuff,” he said.

As students and teachers walked in, West purposefully walked the hallways of Warden Elementary School, Warden Middle School and Warden High School, poking his head into the classrooms, greeting the teachers and greeting the students. He served as principal both here and at Moses Lake and learned to appreciate the smallness of the district.

“You really get to know your staff and their students and families at that personal level of leverage. But it takes a commitment. It takes a conscious effort to get to know our students, our staff and families,” he said.

That’s one of the reasons West said he likes to celebrate “guard wins,” student and staff achievements, throughout the year.

“They happen all around us,” he said. “All you have to do is seek them out and take this important time to celebrate.”

West said work to replace the elementary school’s air conditioning will take a few more weeks, but work teams have changed their hours and will work from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. to complete it. They also cleared the hallways and moved the old refrigerators to the back of the school. Aside from a few portable cooling units in the office — ceiling-to-ceiling hot air vents — you’d never know Warden Elementary had major construction going on.

“We just want to give our kids a safe and smooth transition back to school,” West said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at [email protected]


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