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Educators And Students Upbeat As The New School Year Begins



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Educators And Students Upbeat

As The New School Year Begins

By Eliza Hallabeck

Students across the district were greeted by faculty, staff, and school administrators at each of the schools in Newtown for the start of the 2010-2011 school year Wednesday morning, September 1.

A sign and fencing blocked the old driveway entrance to the high school, showing the way to the new entrance just northwest of the old one. Work on the driveway was completed during the last days of summer break, and finalized within two days of the start of school.

At Reed Intermediate School, knowing sixth graders walked passed new fifth grade students, who waited for directions to the school’s cafetorium. And at three elementary schools — Sandy Hook School, Head O’ Meadow, and Middle Gate — new principals also welcomed new students to their shared first day of school.

Head O’ Meadow Principal Barbara Gasparine said she was excited as she welcomed students with the assistance of newly named lead teacher Jennifer Meyers. Together, Ms Gasparine and Ms Meyers climbed aboard school buses to greet students as they arrived. Kindergarten students were escorted off the bus before older students.

“The first day at [Head O’ Meadow] went very smoothly,” said Ms Gasparine. “After weeks of preparation, it was wonderful to see all those smiling faces climb off the buses and eagerly enter school. We are looking forward to a school year filled with fun and learning.”

Across the district, both Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung and Assistant Principal Jennifer Sinal were visiting classrooms and meeting students.

“The first day at Sandy Hook School is off to a fabulous start,” Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung said by email Wednesday morning. “Students came into school smiling and eager to learn.”

As Ms Hochsprung said, students were engaged in morning meetings and were busy getting re-acquainted with one another.

“]Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson and Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Gejda] also visited classrooms and were welcomed by groups of very appreciative students,” said Ms Hochsprung.

Ms Hochsprung and Ms Sinal said they plan to visit classrooms throughout the school year.

At Hawley Elementary School, students ate lunch in the new Mary Hawley Café for the first time on Wednesday.

“Hawley students arrived happy and eager to begin the new school year,” Hawley Principal Jo-Ann Peters said. “It was a seamless opening with everything running smoothly due to diligent planning on the part of the entire Hawley staff.”

Ms Peters said the only challenge for the day was the hotter than usual weather, and the highlight for the day was the opening of the Mary Hawley Café.

Food Service Director for Chartwells in Newtown Dan Shields, RD, said the café was a great team effort between the school district administration, Hawley school administration, and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Gino Faiella.

“It’s wonderful these students finally have the opportunity to eat in a full service cafeteria,” said Mr Shields while watching students line up to buy lunch.

By 10:30 am, Newtown Middle School Principal Diane Sherlock said lunch was being served, and preparations were already underway to welcome parents for the Thursday, September 2, evening seventh grade open house and the Tuesday, September 7, eight grade open house.

“And we have had a fantastic opening,” said Ms Sherlock, “for all 903 of our seventh and eighth graders.”

Ms Sherlock also said five new teachers were also welcomed at the school for their first day in the district, and everyone at the school was happy to be back.

Despite the possibility of having the start of school postponed at the high school, work on the driveway and a stairwell was completed on time and passed inspection on Tuesday, the day before school began. While student parking will not be permitted on the property until September 8, when parking permit applications will be accepted for eligible seniors on a first-come, first-served basis, the new driveway was open for staff and parents to use.

While Board of Education Chairman William Hart said he was excited for Newtown High School to open as planned, he also said is disappointed the classrooms in the addition will not be ready for students until later this school year.

Looking forward, he said he is excited for the 2010-2011 school year, adding, “I think it’s going to be a good year.”

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