After The Storm Hiatus-Newtown Schools Get Back In The Groove
After The Storm Hiatusâ
Get Back In The Groove
By Eliza Hallabeck
Following a week of school being cancelled by Winter Storm Alfred and its aftermath, school administrators reflected this week on the school restart, Monday, November 7.
âSandy Hook students came bounding off buses today well-rested and smiling,â Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung said. âSome were just returning from out of state, but everyone looks very happy to be settling back into their routines, adults included.â
Ms Hochsprungâs observations were echoed by other school administrators across Newtown. Students were happy to be back in school and with electricity once again.
After visiting classrooms throughout her school with Assistant Principal Tony Salvatore, Ms Hochsprung said, âThere is wonderful learning happening everywhereâ¦ Sandy Hook hasnât skipped a beat.â
Across town at Head Oâ Meadow, Principal Barbara Gasparine said her school was the last to regain power, noting, âWe were holding our breath.
âAll staff was very happy to return and begin a normal schedule,â said Ms Gasparine. âStudents arrived on time and ready to go.â
At Hawley Elementary School Principal Jo-Ann Peters said it was wonderful to return to school on Monday.
âThe teachers were happy to return to school and eager to pick up where they left off prior to the extended time off from school,â said Ms Peters. âStudents enjoyed sharing their experience and stories of how they âweatheredâ Storm Alfred.â
Ms Peters also said she was amazed, as always, at the resiliency of Hawley students.
âWithin a short period of time on Monday, students were actively engaged in learning and it was as though we never missed the week of school,â said Ms Peters.
At Reed Intermediate School Principal Sharon Epple said she and Reed Assistant Principal Jennifer Sinal were also amazed after venturing through the school Monday.
âFaculty and students just hit the ground running and seemed really happy to be back,â said Dr Epple. âIt was neat having the professional teacher day on Friday, too. Many of us still didnât have power at home so being in a warm, beautiful building was awesome. We held [professional learning community] meetings for reading, writing, and math, so we felt very productive. We even took time on Friday to regroup and get ready for our return today.â
With power back for the most part, Dr Epple noted, âthere were lots of smiles around, too.â
At Newtown Middle School Principal Diane Sherlock also noticed her students and staff were happy to be back at school.
âAs I greeted them in the hallway this morning, many said, âWow, it feels great to be here!ââ said Ms Sherlock. âIn some ways it feels to us like the first day of school; in other ways, we are beginning exactly where left off.â
Ms Sherlock also said there were many âcold, darkâ stories being shared between students and staff on Monday, âbut the prevailing overall attitude seems to be one of new appreciation for seemingly simple aspects of life that perhaps we took for granted in the past. So, this difficult power outage situation provided new learning for us all.â
Newtown High School Principal Charles Dumais reported good attendance on Monday.
Mr Dumais also said the school has extended the first quarter at high school to November 14, from November 9, but he also said the school had yet to make other adjustments to the calendar.
âWe are concerned about [Advanced Placement] courses and will be discussing options at todayâs faculty meeting â I doubt that the College Board would entertain a suggestion to move the exams back two weeks. Most colleges extended their deadline for November 1 paperwork; that is a relief for the students who are applying early decision. Our athletes have been competing since last week and will continue to participate in SWC tournaments this week,â Mr Dumais said.
Middle Gate Principal Christopher Geissler was unavailable for comment before this edition of The Bee went to press.
The kindergarten through sixth grade principals also sent home an announcement to parents regarding the school calendar. Following the loss of the first four days of the school year due to Tropical Storm Irene, the Board of Education voted to have three of those days made up during the week that was scheduled for February break. The break is now scheduled for February 20 and 21, and students will attend school February 22, 23, and 24. The last of the four lost days was moved to June 14, moving the last day of school one day.
With five additional days lost due to Winter Storm Alfred, the principals informed parents how the districtâs calendar will reflect those days if the Board of Education leaves the calendar as it is. According to the announcement sent home to parents, the five days will move the last day of school to June 21 for staff and students. Additional make-up days in the calendar, if needed, are June 22, April 20, April 19, April 18, April 17, and April 16 (in that order), according the announcement.
As of last week, Board of Education Chair William Hart said he anticipated his board would discuss the school calendar during a future meeting. The agenda for the school boardâs next scheduled meeting, November 15, was not posted by the morning of Thursday, November 10.