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Summer calm shifted in autumn-like activity on Thursday at Mooseheart when the campus’ students walked to school to begin the 2019-20 school year.
While no tests had been taken, no homework had been assigned and all desks were just being occupied, the anticipation and expectation for the year was apparent as students greeted Mooseheart staff, entered the building and prepared for their first day of class.
“Even though many of them were just here in May, you see them walk in and some of them have grown a full head taller. Some of them have had summer experiences that have them walking in with more confidence. Of course, our seniors are starting their final year. There are 282 days before they graduate and it’s going to go quickly,” Mooseheart Superintendent of Education Dr. Jeff Szymczak said.
Sponsored by the Loyal Order of Moose, Mooseheart for children in-need is currently home to 178 children aged 2 to 18. Elementary, middle school and high school students all began their school year on Thursday. Also new are five staff members. For such a small school, that is a large group of first-year faculty.
“We have new students, a new year, new teachers and it brings new energy,” Szymczak said.
With its motto “Enter to Learn; Leave to Serve,” Mooseheart has housed and educated students since 1913. Mooseheart is unique in that it is a residential campus. Students live in a series of family homes as well as attend the school. Through early August, students have returned from summer trips with their family homes or from home visits with their families. A campus that was very quiet is again alive with activity.
“Whatever happened in the past or in the summer, this year brings a new beginning and every year is an exciting year here. It’s easy to say that it’s a fresh start, but it is and we try to get our kids to buy into that. Each academic year can bring a new level of success,” Mooseheart Executive Director Gary Urwiler said.
The summer, the campus has for many years hosted a Back to School Bash prior to the start of classes to help everyone get prepared for the start of school. This year, the Bash took place on Tuesday (Aug. 13). Canteen Vending Company provided food for the event. All elementary and middle school students received a backpack full of supplies from the Geneva office of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company. The Vicki Martin-Loucks family – Moose members – and Microsoft combined to provide backpacks for high school students. The Unity Partnership provided gym shoes for the school’s elementary students.
“It takes everybody to get the school year started the right way. Kudos to our family teachers for getting the kids ready and prepared. Our teachers and administrators all work to make this an enjoyable. The first day is important for getting everything started off in the right way,” Urwiler said.