East Forsyth High School staff and leadership felt the excitement in the air Thursday morning as students hopped off the buses, found both new and familiar friends and ventured into the hallways for the first day of the 2021-22 year.
Principal Jeff Cheney stood in front of the school, welcoming kids and their families who then headed to the first “Bronco block” to meet one of their teachers or to the school store to buy spirit wear.
Cheney said he was thrilled to see all the students and to kickstart the school year after opening East Forsyth for its first year.
“We’ve been planning for this day for a year and half to two years now,” Cheney said. “It’s amazing.”
Staff members greeted students with huge smiles as they walked into classrooms with fresh school supplies, and took the first hour of the day to get to know each other and East Forsyth's campus.
Later in the morning, school leaders held a pep rally in the gym to celebrate students from each grade level — the classes of 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Students and staff alike will have another opportunity on Friday during the last 30 minutes of school to meet and get to know each other during a school-wide social. Walmart donated 1,200 popsicles for students to enjoy while mingling with new peers.
For Cheney, the celebration felt like the perfect start to a school year that led up with so much excitement not just for Forsyth County Schools as a whole, but particularly the East Forsyth community.
Many in the northeast part of the county have been asking for years when the district would open East Forsyth High School. Now, they can’t believe it is finally here.
“Everything we’ve done, from the spring football scrimmage game to our trailblazer times to our grand opening, [there has been] massive attendance …. It’s really cool to see,” Cheney said.
With the beginning of the new year, Cheney and his administrative team have a few goals they want to accomplish. Most importantly, they want to build a foundation at the school that promotes the East Forsyth community and helps lead current and future students to success.
Much of that foundation will be formed not just by the administration and staff, but by the kids now paving the way to what it means to be an East Forsyth High School student.
“We’re telling the kids, ‘Look, you’re going to be the ones helping us create these traditions. You’re going to be the ones who establish our legacy and what this school is going to represent,’” Cheney said.
Similar feelings of new traditions and fresh starts seemed to spread throughout the district on Thursday.
“We had a great first day of school,” said FCS spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo.
Even with the additional openings of Hendricks Middle School and the Academies for Creative Education, Caracciolo said the day went smoothly for families and students thanks to the hard work put in by the district’s more than 6,000 employees.
This year, many new students have joined FCS, and other kids are coming back to campuses after switching to virtual schooling last year during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the new school year, close to 90% of all FCS students are attending in person.
Caracciolo said the rise in student enrollment this year, for both face-to-face and virtual, is expected to peak at more than 52,000 students overall.
Following some late bus arrivals, she said that those times will improve going into the next week as travel routines are set.
“Safety is our first priority, so we appreciate our parents and guardians being patient and supportive,” Caracciolo said.