MOIND-082620-ISD Opening Day

By Bill Althaus

Students, administrators and teachers said the first day of school was a success at Truman High School in Independence because everyone is “Strong Together.”

That motto was emblazoned on the teachers’ and administrators’ T-shirts, and was evident in the way they discussed the most unusual opening day in recent memory.

“I’ve been a teacher for 22 years,” said former Truman student, basketball player and coach Shelley Lauber, who now teachers English, “and I’ve never seen an opening day like today. It was kind of surreal, but it was also great because we got to see our students and get back in the classroom.

“That’s what I missed, and that’s what I have been hearing all day from our students – they missed being in the classroom.”

Monday started an “A Week” at Truman, in which students whose last names began with the letters A through K attended class at the high school. 

Next week, those students will stay home and have classes online, like their classmates, whose last names begin with the letters K through Z, are experiencing this opening week.

“We are alternating out students, depending on their last names, and today it worked beautifully,” principal Ronda Scott said.

“Our shirts say it all – we are Stronger Together – and today was just about perfect. We had just one student show up without a mask, and our students are taking the social distancing to heart.”

“We have monitors in the hallways, and we are keeping a close eye on our students to make them as safe as possible. And so far, I am just blown away. I don’t know if I have ever been quite this proud of our students.”

Hallways and stairways are now marked one way, and officials say desks have been spread out.

“I have 15 desks – all socially distanced – in my classroom, but my biggest class is just 14 students, so we’re in good shape,” Lauber added.

Two Truman students agreed that the toughest part about the return to school was the social distancing aspect.

“I would see friends I have not seen in months and months and I wanted to run up and hug them,” said senior student council vice president Hadley Brillhart.

“We came up to Truman to write the chalk welcome” – on the entrances into the high school – “and to make a video to welcome our students back, but as far as going into the classroom, today is the first day for that since the pandemic hit,” Brillhart said. 

“Considering all that has happened the past five months, today is pretty amazing. We’re the first school district to return to school, and we did without any problems, and that is a credit to our administration and our teachers.”

“And really, to our students. I think all our seniors are making an extra effort to be positive and to be good role models to the younger students, especially during a time like this.”

Junior Jack Getman, a member of the cross country team, said the first day back was emotional, and special.

“First time back in the building for me since they canceled everything in the fall,” Getman said. “I’ve been to the various sites of our cross country workouts, but today was the first day I walked through those doors.

“And it was a little emotional. I saw a lot of school friends I hadn’t seen in months and it was great to them and my teachers and everyone! I like how some of the halls and stairways are now one direction – they have done everything to make this as easy and safe for us as they could.”