It was a great day to be a Criminal, Hawk, King, Lobo, Raider and Sidewinder Thursday, as the first day back at the Yuma Union High School District got underway.
While some students began the first day as seniors with the future on their minds, others took their first steps on their high school journeys. At Yuma High School, Principal Mike Fritz was impressed by the class of 2026.
“We have freshmen so it’s their first day on campus [and it was great] getting to know them and showing them where their classes are and making them really feel welcome,” he said. “We have an outstanding freshman class. This year I was really impressed by how polite, respectful and willing they were to help each other out and we’re looking forward to a great year with our new freshmen.”
Fritz expressed that the school’s goal in everything it does is to help students succeed and feel safe on campus, and he was amazed by the spirit of kindness and camaraderie displayed by Yuma High’s Criminals.
“It’s gonna be a great year,” he said. “Our students are fantastic. I’m probably a little biased, but I think we have the best students in the world here at Yuma High School. We say that every day in our announcements that we have the best students and teachers in the world so we’re really excited for the school year.”
Firmly believing in the caliber of Yuma High’s students and staff, Fritz added that he looks forward to continuing to build on quality instruction this year and providing a safe environment to teach and reinforce positive behaviors.
And there’s also excitement ahead with memorial events from Yuma High’s Hall of Fame as they’ll be unveiling signs in late October for the Bob McLendon Court at the Yuma High School Palace Gym and the Curley Culp Memorial Stadium at Doan Field.
“At Yuma High we’ve got a motto: old tradition, new commitment,” Fritz said. “So every year we’re looking forward to continuing to build on the old tradition, welcoming back our alumni for different events … We haven’t had the Hall of Fame in a few years so we’re really excited about that.”
Over at San Luis High School, Principal Rob Jankowski expressed that he’s eager for the changes cooking up on campus.
“I am looking forward to my first year as the principal at SLHS even though I am entering my 18th year as a Sidewinder,” he said. “The most exciting thing is always the students and trying to provide courses and programs that they are interested in. This upcoming year we have been able to add culinary arts as a course for our students which will include construction of a $1 million classroom and kitchen. Construction is set to begin shortly and be completed throughout the school year.”
Jankowski noted that the Sidewinders were ready to meet the day, making sure that everyone got the help they needed.
“First day has been incredible and the best I can describe it is that our staff was prepared; prepared to help and assist students in any way and prepared to establish the foundation for a positive learning environment this year,” he said. “Students appeared eager to learn, excited about their new classes and reconnecting with friends and ready to engage in classroom activities.”
Jankowski similarly felt that San Luis High has some of the best students and staff.
“It was great to see staff assisting students making sure they knew where their classrooms were or where to get lunch, or where the office was,” he added. “It’s going to be a great year to be a Sidewinder!”
Gila Ridge High School Principal Kathy Hoover also asserted that a great year of growth is in store for the Hawks.
“Our first day back has been full of excitement for our staff and students,” she explained. “I feel energized by how friendly and patient our students are as they navigate new schedules and teachers. I’ve seen a lot of reunions between returning students and teachers that excites me about the positive, mentoring connections our students and teachers have developed.”
Although the day was busy, some of Hoover’s best moments were in classrooms helping students with bus routes or Chromebooks. Despite how nerve-wracking a first day can be, she observed that freshmen and new students alike were confident in seeking help. And aside from helping them, she enjoyed getting to know them too.
“I always look forward to hearing from students going into a new school year,” Hoover shared. “First days are so busy with meeting quick needs and fine-tuning our systems, but I know the real mission is day-to-day in the classrooms with teachers. As I walked around classrooms today, I noticed more relational, conversational activities and assignments rather than the old sit-and-get, these-are-the-rules types of lectures. That really excited me about the focus in our classrooms this year. In my role, I hope to continue to lead our staff in providing the best customer service we can to our students and families. Every student matters to our team here, and I want to make sure we provide the best experience for them. We will fail at times, but I guarantee we will learn and do better with each one of those experiences.”
Although Hoover couldn’t predict how the year will go based on one day, she did note that there seems to be a lot of opportunity for growth thanks to the receptiveness of students.
“I believe every student truly wants to learn how to succeed,” she said. “They are young, and at times, need help understanding the culture of professional behavior – so do many adults! We look forward to supporting their professional growth. It truly is the best part of this job. Their behaviors–whether awesome or needing correction–make for great relational conversations with students, parents and our staff. That is where really strong relationships happen. I look forward to the growth that comes from those experiences this year.”