'It's going to be a great year:' Area schools begin to welcome students back

·5 min read

MASSILLON – About 430 juniors walked through the doors of R.G. Drage Career Technical Center Tuesday morning. It was the first day of class for the students as they prepared to embark on their first year of career technical training.

They were among hundreds of students closing the chapter on their summer vacations and heading back to the classroom across Stark County.

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During the next few days, more school bells will ring as districts begin the 2022-23 school year.

Drage will welcome about 400 more seniors on Wednesday. Director Dan Murphy said this is the largest enrollment the school has seen. Its numbers have been on a steady rise for the past four or five years.

"I think they realize it is a great opportunity," Murphy said. "Every program earns them college credits and it's a seamless transition into college or the workforce."

He credits his staff and the great job they do with helping with recruiting and retaining students.

"It's exciting to have a new group of kids coming in," Murphy added. "It's going to be a great year."

This is the first year since the pandemic, that students are seeing a "more normal" year without COVID-19 restrictions, including masks.

Schools are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health agency recommendations.

While masks are not required at Drage, Murphy said any student or staff member is welcome to wear a mask.

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On Tuesday, Jackson Local Schools also started the new school year.

"We are always excited to welcome our nearly 6,000 students back for another school year and today was the first step in that journey," Jackson Superintendent Chris DiLoreto said. "Our employees have been diligently working to make sure we get the 2022-2023 school year off to a great start and we are fortunate to have so many caring employees to contribute to making that a reality. We look forward to partnering with our parents to make this a great school year at Jackson.”

Onyx greets Lake Elementary students

At Lake Elementary, students were greeted by a new face − and possibly a few licks. Onyx, a black Labrador retriever, strolled through classrooms Tuesday to help students get rid of any first-day jitters.

Onyx, owned by Lake Local Schools, is a trained facility dog and attends each school day with four days a week spent at Lake Elementary and one day a week at Lake Primary. Throughout the day, he will help when an upset child may need some comforting, be a listening ear to a struggling reader or just lie next to a group of students who may need some extra motivation in their work. He also helps with occupational therapy and speech therapy needs.

"He's like a canine counselor," said school counselor Jess McLouth, one of three Lake counselors who have been trained to handle Onyx. "He's got a lot of different areas that he can help with."

Onyx, who turned 2 years old in July, succeeds Mason, a golden retriever who served as the district's facility dog from 2016 until he retired last school year.

After school, Onyx goes home with McLouth, where she says he enjoys doing typical dog things, such as playing tug-of-war, getting belly rubs and sitting on people's laps.

Canton Repository reporter Kelli Weir contributed to this article.

Reach Amy at 330-775-1135 or amy.knapp@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @aknappINDE

First day of school by district

Here's a look at when Stark County-area students return to school:

Alliance City Schools

Thursday: Grades 1, 2, 4, 6

Friday: Grades 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12

Aug. 23: Preschool, kindergarten, Parkway Learning and Development Center

Brown Local Schools

Wednesday: Grades 1-12

Thursday and Friday: Kindergarten (as assigned)

Monday: All kindergarten

Canton City Schools

Tuesday: Grades 4, 7 and Early College Grade 9

Wednesday: Grades 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8; McKinley High School Grade 9 and Early College grades 10, 11 and seniors with high school courses

Thursday: McKinley grades 10, 11 and 12 and Early College grade 12

Aug. 23: Kindergarten and preschool

AIM Academy students began on July 27.

Canton Local Schools

Tuesday: Grades 1-9

Wednesday: Grades 10-12, preschool

Friday: Kindergarten

Carrollton Exempted Village Schools

Thursday: Grades 1-12

Aug. 26: Kindergarten

Dalton Local Schools

Monday: Grades 1-12

Aug. 24: Kindergarten

Fairless Local Schools

Wednesday: Grades 1-6, 9; kindergarten (as assigned)

Thursday: Grades 7-8, 10-12; kindergarten (as assigned)

Friday: Kindergarten (as assigned)

Monday: All kindergarten

Green Local Schools

Wednesday: Grades K-12

Jackson Local Schools

Tuesday: Grades K-12

Lake Local Schools

Tuesday: Grades 1, 3-9 and grade 2 with last names A-L

Wednesday: Grades 10-12 and grade 2 with last names M-Z

Monday: Kindergarteners (last names A-L)

Aug. 23: Kindergarteners (last names M-Z)

Louisville City Schools

Wednesday: Grades 1-6 and 9

Thursday: Grades 7-8, 10-12 and kindergartners attending on "A" days

Friday: Kindergarteners attending on "B" days

Marlington Local Schools

Sept. 6: Grades 1-12

Sept. 6-7: Kindergarten (as assigned)

Sept. 8: All kindergarten

Massillon City Schools

Thursday: Grades 1-12

Kindergartners will be notified of their start date.

Minerva Local Schools

Wednesday: Grades 1-12

Friday: Kindergarten

North Canton City Schools

Friday: Grades 1-3, 6 and 9

Monday: Grades 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12

Aug. 24: Preschool

Aug. 25: Kindergarten

Northwest Local Schools

Tuesday: Northwest Primary (last name A-L); Stinson Elementary (as assigned); Grades 6 and 9

Wednesday: Northwest Primary (last name M-Z); Stinson Elementary (as assigned); all middle school and high school

Osnaburg Local Schools

Wednesday: Grades 1-12

Thursday and Friday: Kindergarteners (as assigned)

Perry Local Schools

Wednesday: Grades 1-5, 7-9

Thursday: Grades 6, 10-12

Aug. 22-25: Kindergarten (as assigned)

Aug. 26: All kindergarten

Plain Local Schools

Friday: Grades 5,7 and 9

Monday: Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12

Aug. 25: Kindergarten (last names A-L)

Aug. 26: Kindergarten (last names M-Z)

R.G. Drage Career & Technical Center

Tuesday: Juniors

Wednesday: Seniors

Sandy Valley Local Schools

Tuesday: Grades 6 and 9

Wednesday: Grades 1-5, 7-8, 10-12

Kindergarteners will be notified of their start date.

Sebring Local Schools

Thursday: K-12

Tuslaw Local Schools

Wednesday: Grades 1-12

Monday: Kindergarten (last names A-L)

Aug. 23: Kindergarten (last names M-Z)

West Branch Local Schools

Sept. 7: Grades 1-12

This article originally appeared on The Independent: Stark County students begin return to classroom