As teachers headed back to school in Newtown this year they are better equipped to respond to specific students in need after participating in the first phase of Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training sponsored by The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, Inc.
School district faculty and staff filed into the auditorium at Newtown High School on Thursday, August 21, for a convocation ceremony to mark the near-beginning of the 2014-15 school year.
Representatives of local boards and the Newtown Police Department were also in attendance, including members of the Board of Education and First Selectman Pat Llodra.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Gejda pointed out near the start of the event that just as the end of summer approaches, a sense of restlessness can become common, until the familiar routine of the school year returns.
Kindergarten students across the district had a taste of the school year on Friday, August, 22, when they experienced riding on a school bus for the first time in their public school careers. At Hawley Elementary School, students were greeted by their teachers, parent volunteers, and Principal Christopher Moretti. The children visited their classrooms, where they could color and make themselves familiar with the spaces. As the first school bus opened its doors at Sandy Hook School at Chalk Hill Middle School in Monroe, Secretary Joanne Didonato greeted them with a smile and a “Good morning.”
With burgers and hot dogs on the grill and sporting an “If you barbeque, they will come” apron, new Hawley Elementary School Principal Christopher Moretti was surprised by his school staff on Monday, August 25, during a staff barbeque.
The theme song to Rocky played, staff members wearing green T-shirts began to walk out of the school to form a large circle around Mr Moretti.
Anxiety about the first day of school is not limited to kindergarteners and children starting a new school. Younger children, even those with a year or two of school behind them, may experience a new or repeat bout of separation anxiety, and children of any age are often apprehensive about the unknown: a new teacher, new classmates and new academic challenges. “Anxiety is normal and understandable at any time of change or transition, including the beginning of a new school year,” says Dr Carly Orenstein of Morris Psychological Group, located in Parsippany, N.J. “Children worry about things that are unfamiliar and about things they haven’t mastered yet. ‘What if I don’t know the answers? Will my teacher be nice? Who will I play with at recess?’ “Parents should be alert to the signs of anxiety and help children overcome their worries with some simple strategies that will ease the transition into the new year for the whole family.”
Classrooms were set, welcoming signs were on display, and students were making their way into their schools for the first time of the 2014-15 school year on Tuesday, August 26, for the first day of school. Just before buses began pulling up at Middle Gate Elementary School Tuesday morning, Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, said the morning was going smoothly. Buses had already dropped students off at Newtown High School, Newtown Middle School, Reed Intermediate School, and local private schools, before making their way to the elementary schools. “So far it was a really good opening,” Dr Erardi said,
Parents and school community members should have received a letter from Director of Dining Services Dan Shields and Resident Dietitian Jill Patterson, RD, within the past two weeks from Chartwells School Dining Services to introduce its new Simply Good program ahead of the 2014-15 school school year. Different versions of the letter were sent out to describe the program for the elementary schools, for Reed Intermediate School, for Newtown Middle School, and for Newtown High School.
Rising Hawley Elementary School fourth grade student Conrad Chapman attended the International Plastic Modelers Society USA 2014 National Convention in Hampton, Va., from August 6 to 9, and brought home a first place title.
Conrad took first place in the pre-teen junior category for his model diorama titled, “BTR-70 Wrecked,” according to his father, Chris Chapman, who also had his own entries at the convention.
Conrad said this week that he has been creating models since he was 5 years old. Model building is a family hobby for him, his father, and his younger sister Madeleine, who is a rising first grader at Hawley.
“Play on!” Parks & Recreation Camp Dagorhir instructor Andrew Mangold said on Thursday, August 14.
Around him at Dickinson Memorial Park, campers waited in “ships” wearing a range of costume pieces and holding foam handmade “swords” or other devices.
This is the sixth year the program has been offered, according to Mr Mangold, and it has been growing.
The camp brings a role playing game to life at the park, with campers choosing different characters to play. Some choose to be merchants, some choose to learn magic, and others decide to play monsters, according to Mr Mangold.
Parents and family members of Housatonic Valley Waldorf School summer camp students were welcomed by a row of students looking over a fence door on the school’s campus on Friday, August 15.
Behind the row of students at the entrance, Camp Director Carrie Reilly was busy overseeing a spread of harvest feast offerings, from a sampling of fruit smoothies to vegetable soup, from pizza to salad, for parents, family members, and campers lined up to eat and celebrate.