QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Here are some numbers about Thursday morning: Over 900 students coming through the door at Queensbury Elementary School. 3,063 starting the year across four district buildings. Temperatures already in the 70s at 8:30 a.m., with the sun shining bright on every smiling face saying hello to their teachers and friends.
That’s the basic breakdown of the first day of school at Queensbury Elementary School, where faculty welcomed kids to their elementary and Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) classrooms. The real stories, though, vary by the student and the family.
“It was a good day,” said Randy Vanderwalker, who was dropping off his first-grade daughter. “It’s easier than it was last year. Kindergarten was harder, but today was a good day.”
On the front side of the school, kids came off buses to hug familiar teachers hello and make a mad dash for the front doors of the building. Around back, faculty waved along parents like Vanderwalker who dropped their kids off by car. Elementary Principal Jessica Rossetti was there alongside teachers and other faculty to make sure every backpack-toting kid got to the right room.
The district’s UPK program is new this year, and a big upgrade for the district. Powered by some federal funding, the school’s four sections of full-day kindergarten have been in the works throughout the summer – and represent a new type of first chapter for kids joining the largest school district in Warren County. On Thursday, the program’s first 72 kids started the first page.
“We actually have several kindergarten teachers and two special education teachers who have stepped into UPK teacher roles,” said Rossetti. “We know early intervention matters in getting kids into school as early as possible. It helps support their whole educational career – getting them started earlier and used to the school routines, what school is, and what those processes are earlier on. Our whole staff is thrilled to have them.”
Queensbury Elementary School was the last building of the day to see its class arrive – and some older learners got an extra-early start. Queensbury High School seniors in the graduating class of 2024 gathered at 5:45 a.m. on the school’s recently-completed turf field for a “Senior Sunrise,” to watch the morning light shine on the final first day of their high school career.
The Queensbury campus includes its elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as the William H. Barton Intermediate School. With over 3,000 kids in the 2023-24 student body, it stands as the largest school district in Warren County.