EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Students across the Chippewa Valley returned to school Wednesday, and a group of Eau Claire middle school students met with a special visitor.
DeLong Middle School is back, and its staff is excited.
"We went into education because we want to be with kids, we want to be role models, and learn about kids, and teach them at the same time. We just love the opportunity to be able to do it in person, and getting to know them face-to-face. We’re just excited about having the kids in the building, and all of our staff in the building as well," said Taylor Semingson, DeLong Middle School's assistant principal.
Masks are required to be worn inside the building, and Semingson said there will be a focus on creating a community within the school.
"We have many students this year, first of all sixth graders, who are new to the building, but we also have many students who weren’t in the building last year. We have a class during the day where students have an opportunity to get to know each other, to work on academic skills, and then also on those social, emotional skills," Semingson said.
As a special start to the school year, a group of sixth graders got to play 'Getting To Know You' bingo with Gov. Tony Evers.
"A great opportunity to have a public official coming to your school. I’m sure it is something they will remember for a very long time. It’s a pretty unique opportunity that not a lot of kids will get," Semingson said.
With a fresh start, one student said she is ready to leave last year behind her.
"It was really hard because I didn’t have any friends in my other classes. I’m very excited because I get to see my friends again," said Samantha Wieczorek, a DeLong Middle School student.
"The students, what I’ve noticed today, have a really good energy. They are super into being at school, and they are even admitting it, which says a lot. You can tell as you walk through the halls they are really excited and ready to learn in-person. Being at school, I think students really appreciate that now, and so do teachers. Once you have that disrupted, you realize how valuable of a thing it is to have, and how precious education is when it gets mixed up and taken away. I think there is a lot of value to what we are doing here, and I think we are kind of reenergized, both the students and staff, to take advantage of being back," said Brent Wathke, a DeLong Middle School social studies teacher.
While students said they're happy to be back, one told News 18 it was hard to get up for school Wednesday morning, since middle school starts earlier than elementary school.