NEWINGTON - A buzz of excitement swept through schools Wednesday morning, as students and staff began the first day of their 2017-18 year.
Some students had a friendly welcome from the superintendent of schools himself as they stepped onto their school buses. Dr. William Collins rode along with one of the bus drivers to surprise kids waiting at the curb.
“We’re going to have a good year with a lot of good things ahead,” Collins said.
The district continued its 1:1 Technology Initiative this year, providing every third-grader with a Google Chrome book device.
For many students and faculty, Wednesday marked the first day in a new building or a new post.
John Wallace Middle School just welcomed its new principal, Daniel Dias, following the retirement of former Principal David Milardo.
Newington High School Principal Terra Tigno has been an NHS administrator the last 12 years, but this will be her first as its chief.
“My main vision is focusing on a family of learners,” she said Wednesday morning. “It’s all about care and kindness.”
Every member of the NHS community has been asked to think of one goal they have for this year. Teachers’ submissions were cut and pasted onto a tree painting by a group of students. Everyone’s goals will form a branch or leaf on a giant tree to go up in the cafeteria later this year.
Spanish teacher Jamie Rodriguez said her goal was to “create more interactive and real world experiences.”
Social studies teacher Tim Sullivan “would like to integrate more technology.”
Staff received polo shirts with the emblem “Family of Learners” to wear on the last Friday of each month to spread the positivity. School members will be recognizing acts of kindness on little cards they can turn in for a Hersey’s Kiss.
All of these new initiatives go towards Tigno’s mission to foster a warm environment.
“We’re building connections and relationships,” she explained.
Those beginning their senior year were among the most confident on the first day of school.
“I’ll be graduating soon and it’s a big step in my life,” 17-year-old Shinia Lawson said with a smile.
Sophomore Kevin Mooney said his main goal was “to stay focused in class.”
“I’m dedicated to getting good grades through the whole year,” he said.
Freshman Tyler Boret wasn’t afraid to admit he was a little bit jumpy to be starting the new year.
“I wasn’t sure what the change was going to be like, coming to the high school,” Boret said. “I thought the building would be a lot more confusing to get around than it actually is. It’s basically just a big square with three floors.”
At Martin Kellogg Middle School, kids filtered into the hallways about a half-an-hour after NHS, since the school schedules alternate starting times. Principal Jason Lambert couldn’t help but pick up on the excitement flowing through the building.
“In a very short period of time the buzz in the school environment was very excited, with the anticipation that comes with a new school year,” he pointed out.
Out of MKMS’ 620 students, 50 will be taking courses in the Biomedical Academy, one of several career academies in the district that offer a specific focus.
This is just one more force driving the school’s upbeat energy, according to Lambert.
“We have goals in literacy, numeracy, school climate and parent engagement, which we set last spring,” he said. “We will monitor their progress through a variety of assessment models this year.”
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.