ARCHBALD, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)— Wednesday was the first day of school for hundreds of students and teachers in Lackawanna County.

With the Valley View High School Band playing, a sea of students were welcomed back to school for the 2022-2023 school year.

“It’s bittersweet, it’s something I look forward to every year, it’s crazy to think this is my last first day,” said Ethan Symuleski, a senior at Valley View.

Ethan kicked off the first day of his senior year of high school playing in the band.

Music was one thing that just wasn’t the same for him when schools went virtual.

“Just the connection that we all have when we’re in person and the sound that we make. It’s not the same online because well of course there’s a delay,” Ethan told Eyewitness News.

There were plenty of high fives. Students, teachers, and administration are all looking forward to a more “Normal” year with positive energy coming from all.

“Everybody’s excited that we no longer have any of these restrictions and the kids are going to get back to some sort of normalcy, and we can focus on the important things of academics and social and emotional needs of the students,” said Susan Rodway, a school guidance counselor.

One new thing for middle and high schoolers is clear backpacks, a way to keep banned items out of the classroom.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Baccello said the staff is focused on both students’ safety and mental health.

There are also more new teachers to start the school year, with a handful of brand new positions

“Positions like mental health professionals that we’ve never had in the history of valley view school district and we are really proud to have them to meet the needs of our students and just do the best job we possibly can with our kids,” Dr. Boccella explained.

Younger students returned too. Third, fourth and fifth graders exited buses in droves walking into valley view intermediate school with new and old friends.

Valley View returns earlier than most; in fact, it’s the first school district to return in Lackawanna County.