School start hailed by Board of Education

After months of planning and hoping that the school would re-open, the start of the 2020-2021 school year was “my most emotional opening ever,” said Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D.

Members of the Board of Education, some of whom have children in the school, expressed thanks to the many people who worked to make the Sept. 10 opening possible. Nurse Mary Kanarvogel, all the teachers, Building and Grounds Supervisor Mike Dunning and all the custodial staff, and others drew praise for the effort that made re-opening safe and successful.

With 63 new students registered, bringing total enrollment to 221, Director of Pupil Personnel, Data and Instruction Jennifer Rylott said everyone had scrambled to re-organize the classes and classrooms to conform to the accepted requirements for in-person opening.

A new PreK program for 3-year-olds was “off to a great start” Mr. Doelger said, “despite a lot of hugging and crying the first day.”

About the second day, he said, “the kids just walked in, including one that was not even registered.”

Board member Karina Montalvo said she had spoken with parents whose children were new to the school, and was told, “I can’t believe we were missing out on this.”

Following the board’s decision last month to retire the name Indians from the school’s teams, Mr. Doelger said he and Director of Athletics Todd Gulluscio had made plans to form a committee to explore a new name. The committee planned to get input from people on both sides of the issue, Mr. Gulluscio said. A survey will be conducted among students, parents and teachers, he said, to get data to support a decision.

With school sports now postponed until January, Mr. Gulluscio said it was a challenge to get “coaches back connected with kids.” He said they could begin to work on running and golf during October, November and December to prepare for January.

The school had observed a moment of silence on Sept. 11 in memory of those killed in those 2001 attacks, the superintendent said. The social studies teachers, Mr. Miedema, Ms. Corbett and Mr. Brennan, had taken the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to visit the Sept. 11 Memorial at the Center Fire Department.

Ms. Rylott said the school had applied for more than $100,000 in federal grants, which, if awarded, would support professional development and training in order to strengthen educators’ ability to help disadvantaged, failing or at risk of failing students. Another would support English language acquisition for immigrant students by providing chrome books, website access and professional development for teachers.