HELENA — The halls of Helena High School were filled with a little bit of chatter on Tuesday afternoon as teachers and staff were preparing to welcome students back for the upcoming school year.
Last year was a forward step to a "normal" school year, but with reported COVID-19 cases remaining considerably lower than the highest point of last school year, teachers are especially excited to see their students back.
“For teachers and kids, it's just exciting. And I think, especially high school kids know how it was before and you know, how much they missed out on maybe those last couple years, especially the older kids,” said Helena High School math teacher Nicole Lindgren.
“I'm thrilled, I have been waiting for this year, where I could really just dive in with my students, and start the year off on a really positive note. Where we can all really connect with each other and build really awesome community together, all together in one space,” said Helena High School Spanish teacher Lanie Sund.
With the first bell for school coming in short order, the dog days of summer are almost over. While some teachers still had some things they wanted to do, Helena High School science teacher Jamie O'Malley said she took a different approach this past summer.
"The last two years were pretty brutal. I felt really exhausted at the end of last year and I had to find that, that balance again and I had to really turn off thinking about school for a while," said O'Malley. "I think we have to really step back and realize that teachers' mental health is just as important as the students."
After a summer away, teachers are now wrapping up their last-minute preparations for the upcoming school year and most, if not all feel ready for kids to come back to class.
"I find that I'm going to be prepared no matter how much anxiety I have or not, and so I decided to just I, you know, I've done this before, this is like my 15th or 16th or 20th rodeo, you know, and so I'm just going to handle things as they come along," said O'Malley. "I think it's gonna be a great year."
"I'm excited to come back. I mean, it's never long enough. The summer is never long enough. But once we get back in here and we start seeing the kids and stuff, it's just, it's exciting to be back," said Lindgren.
Both Helena High and Capital High Schools will welcome freshmen on Wednesday to give them a first look at being a high schooler, before welcoming back all classes on Thursday morning.