“Hurry up Mom, I don’t want to be late on the first day!”

Eighth grader Ray Finkel said that with a laugh, as Ray’s mother, Alison Finkel, snapped some Day One photos in front of Nichols Middle School, where Ray is a student.

“I’ve taken first day of school pictures ever since Ray was in preschool,” Finkel said.

This was the first time, however, that Ray’s friends Sanaya and Vera Mae were in the photos, even though, mom said, “they’ve known each other since kindergarten.”

Finkel said she was “not at all concerned at all about the heat,” crediting District 65 with “good communication” about heat mitigation measures to keep everyone as cool as possible with temperatures kissing 100 degrees, and the heat index above 110.

This is the third year at Nichols for Ray, Sanaya, and Vera Mae … but for Nuri Kim, a 6th grader, this was her first First Day in a middle school.

“I’m nervous but excited,” Nuri said. “I want to make new friends. Meeting new people and new teachers is very exciting.”

Nuri is a graduate of Dewey Elementary, where her 4th grade sister, Yeori, attends.

Day 1, L-R: Jihye Han (mom), Yeori Kim (4th grader), Nuri Kim (6th grader), Seyeom Kim (dad).

Mom and Dad dropped Nuri off at Nichols before heading to Dewey with daughter #2.

Jennie Rorrico brought her son to Nichols.

Rorrico, too, was not overly concerned with the high temperatures.

“We didn’t have air conditioning when I was in school,” she said with a smile.

District 65 schools have air conditioning except in certain places such as hallways and gymnasiums.

The Evanston/Skokie system has seen its share of controversies recently, from curriculum, to finances, to turnover in the administration.

But Finkel said that “in general, my kids have been well served by District 65.”

“As a whole,” she noted, I believe really strongly in public education. It’s one of the most important community norms.”

Students gathering at Nichols Middle School for first day of classes.

Despite positive feelings among the kids and parents at Nichols, there are likely to be fewer students district-wide in 2023-24, as the downward trend of the past several years is expected to continue.

D65 is projecting 6,019 students in grades K-8, a decrease of 97 from the previous year.

Kindergarten enrollment is predicted to be 620, a slight increase over last year’s actual total of 597, but not enough to offset ongoing declines in other grades.

Final numbers will be reported to the state as of October 1.

Those numbers will include a Nichols 6th grader named Nola, who showed up with her mom, Kara.

Nola said she was “nervous,” as mom noted this was not just the first day of school, but “this is our first day here, period.”

But at least 100-degree temperatures are nothing new for them.

They just moved here from Texas.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *