Emblem Academy rolls out the red carpet


The Saugus district welcomes students back for the first day of school

In the early morning, hand-in-hand, parents and children walked toward Emblem Academy.

Children wore their best clothes, smiles, and backpacks just about the same size as them, as they stepped onto campus for the first day of school. Most kids were excited to be back at school – though lamenting the end of summer break.

The school year has just begun for students in the Saugus Union School District with Monday being the first day of classes.

“[I’m excited about] seeing my friends,” said second-grader Natalie Cureño. “Yeah [I had a lot of fun this summer]. But I’d like to be back on summer break and go back to my bed.”

First grade teacher Yolanda Charton holds a sign with her name on it so her students know where to gather for her class on the first day of school at Emblem Academy of the Saugus Union School District in Saugus, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

Norma Guerra, Cureño’s mother, said her daughter is an only child, so she’s happy to have her kid back in school.

“I’m just excited for her to come back and be able to talk and be around other kids,” Guerra said. “Other than summer camp, she gets to stay home, and we want her to be out, make friends and learn.”

Before dropping off her daughter and heading to work, Guerra took a moment to photograph her daughter in front of a “First Day of School” photo backdrop that members of the Parents Teachers’ Association set up.

It was just a little reminder to treasure moments like the first day of school, according to Principal Sahar Moshayedi. PTA members also hosted a welcome-back breakfast in the multipurpose room for incoming kindergarten and pre-K students and their families as a way to help build connections.

Shawn Heckerman takes a photo of his daughters Faith, 6, Hope, 6, and Grace, 8 before their first day of school at Emblem Academy of the Saugus Union School District in Saugus, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

Emblem Academy staff also rolled out a red carpet to make students feel like super stars as they came back to school. Teachers also hosted a field day for students — as a way to introduce more play before getting back into the routine of learning.

“We’re really happy to have all of the kids back on campus and the new school year,” Moshayedi said. “I know that for the past couple of years, there have been a lot of challenges with students returning to campus, learning from home through distance learning, so we’re excited to welcome everybody back to a brand-new year and new start.

The 2022-23 school year marks the second consecutive year students return to campus for in-person learning. Moshayedi said it feels as if the community is getting closer to the normalcy of pre-pandemic.

“I think that’s creating a lot of high-energy momentum,” Moshayedi said. “We hope to stay on that trajectory and that we can focus on welcoming everybody back and making everyone feel comfortable and happy to be together again.”

Hundreds of students and parents line up to get into the campus on the first day of school at Emblem Academy of the Saugus Union School District in Saugus, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

Hanzel Mae and Yuves Climaco dropped off their 8-year-old son Yohan for his third-grade year.

Yohan described feeling a bit nervous because he would be around new people, but excited to be back.

After some fun in the Philippines and visiting family, the Climaco family was back to their regular schedules. Hanzel Mae said her son had spent his first and second grade doing some distance learning.

“It [took] some adjustments. He did good, but in second grade, he was OK with that, too, with the mask and everything. We’re still having to wear masks, but it’s great to have that socialization and engagement with the teachers and inside the school.”

Erica Ramirez walked her 6-year-old daughter Lucille to her first day of first grade. Ramirez said she started bringing her daughter to school last year and chose Emblem Academy because it feels safe.

Last year was nerve wracking, she said, to have her child come back to school in light of all what was happening through the COVID-19 pandemic. But her Lucille thrived and stayed safe, she added.

“Luckily, she stayed healthy and this year I’m excited for her to learn — anything and everything that comes her way. I know she’ll just succeed,” Ramirez said.

Dan Savell and his daughter Rachel, 5, share a laugh together before Rachel’s first day of kindergarten at Emblem Academy in Saugus, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal
Heather Coo and Brandon Balderrama take a photo of their son Damien, 5, in front of the school sign before his first day of school at Emblem Academy of the Saugus Union School District in Saugus, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal
Siblings Wyatt, 4, Bronwyn, Carys, and Chiara Kemp along with Grady Evans, 7, and Coralie Tatum, 7, take a photo with the school mascot on the first day of school at Emblem Academy of the Saugus Union School District in Saugus, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal
Twin sisters Sasha and Madison Cooper, 5, play on the seesaw together before their first day of kindergarten on the first day of school at Emblem Academy of the Saugus Union School District in Saugus, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal
Frank Vega takes a photo of his son Luke, 4, with his new kindergarten teacher on the first day of school at Emblem Academy of the Saugus Union School District in Saugus, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

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