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Community Leaders Share Back-to-School Tips

Leaders from Winnetka and Wilmette shared their best advice for making this the best school year ever.

Most New Trier Township schools started back up for the year on Monday, with others following suit on Wednesday. While many students have had their school supplies ready for weeks, community leaders offered up some invaluable last-minute tips to make sure that this is the best school year ever. 

"This is my thirty-eighth first day of school as a professional educator, and I never get sick of the sense of promise, excitement and hope that permeates each school building at the beginning of the year," said Dr. Linda Yonke, New Trier High School Superintendent. "I know that not every student is as eager to begin school as ... I am today, but I want to extend a warm welcome to every student attending New Trier."

Yonke added that she hopes students take advantage of everything offered to them. 

"I hope that you will seek, join, question and work — seek help when you need it from teachers and counselors; join a new club or activity and meet new friends; question assumptions and learn to think critically; and work hard in order to make the most out of your education," she said. "Warm wishes for a successful and rewarding 2013-14 school year!"

Dr. Cathy Rosen, Principal of Washburne Elementary, reflected on her days as a kid heading back to school. 

"I remember as a kid, I would pick out a new 'back-to-school outfit', new white gym shoes and I'd line up my new school supplies, all in anticipation of the new school year — it was the best!" she said. "I see that same excited anticipation in our students — some nervous when they first arrive, but then by the end of the first day, they have big smiles on their faces — it's awesome!" 

Wilmette Police spent the morning patrolling school zones during the first day of classes.

"[This morning while patrolling school zones] I was in a neighborhood near McKenzie, where a truly impressive number of moms and dads were walking their children to school," Wilmette Police Chief Brian King said. "The energy and excitement of the children easily made it the best part of my day."

King reminds students and parents to make sure this school year is a safe one. 

"Whether you are walking, riding a bicycle or dropping a student off by car, we ask that you act safely with a consciousness of others," King said. "The neighborhoods surrounding each of our schools are congested, particularly at the beginning and end of the school day."

Alan Dolinko, NTHS Board of Education President, hopes that students are able to develop a love of learning. 

"My wish for our students is that each one of them develop a passion for lifelong learning," Dolinko said. "I also encourage each to take advantage of all the wonderful extra participatory opportunities available to them, from athletics to performing arts, to clubs and service organizations. Be active and engaged!"

Mac Harris, New Trier High School Board of Education Vice President, advised students to keep a balance of excitement with academic focus. 

"My advice is to enjoy the excitement and energy of a new school year, while keeping a sufficient focus on the academic requirements," Harris said. "It's important to get a good start in all areas of activity. Getting behind in a very rigorous environment can create serious challenge and stress. So have fun, stay focused and work smart." 

What are your best tips for starting off the school year on the right foot? Let us know in the comments below!

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