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Back to school: Weston students return on Monday

Back to school

Weston High School Principal Lisa Wolak, left, embraces secretary Anne Graham, who received the district’s Distinguished Staff Award in June.

The new school year begins in Weston next week when approximately 2,425 students will return to the classroom on Monday, Aug. 27.

The district has 13 new teachers who attended induction sessions last week and earlier this week. A teacher convocation will be held tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 24.

There are some changes going on at the schools this year.

At Weston Middle School, the changes are physical. There is a major window and door replacement project underway, as well as renovation work being done to the middle school library.

However, School Superintendent Colleen Palmer said she does not expect these construction projects to impact the opening of school. “We don’t see any major barriers to opening the [middle] school on time,” she said.

This will mark the first year for full-day kindergarten at Hurlbutt Elementary School. For the first 14 days of school — through Friday, Sept. 14 — kindergarten students will be dismissed at 1:15. Beginning Monday, Sept. 17, kindergartners will go for full school days, dismissing at 3:15, and will ride on the same buses as the rest of the Hurlbutt and intermediate school students.

Weston High School will be undergoing the accreditation process this year, and for the first time, AIM (academic innovation and measurement) will be fully implemented at Weston Intermediate School.

“So yes, we’re a little busy,” Dr. Palmer said.

Buses 

Weston’s four schools are served by First Student bus company. Bus schedules for the 2012-13 school year are available on the school district’s Web site, westonps.org.

David Lustberg, transportation coordinator for the school district, advises all parents to check the schedule, as changes may have made since the last school year.

He also advises parents to check the website again after the start of the school year, as further adjustments may be necessary during the first few weeks of school.

Weston runs two bus “tiers” — an early tier to pick up middle school and high school students, and a later one to pick up Hurlbutt and intermediate school students.

All buses are equipped with working surveillance cameras and GPS tracking devices so the schools know where the buses are at any given time.

Excitement

Joanna Genovese is beginning her seventh year as principal of Hurlbutt Elementary School, which houses pre-K through grade two.

She is very excited about the upcoming school year, particularly with respect to the school’s new full-day kindergarten program, which she believes was very needed.

“We found, over the years, as state expectations increased, that we did not have enough time in our modified day program to include as much purposeful play and choice time as we would have preferred to build those essential problem solving skills necessary for healthy school development,” she said.

Pattie Falber has been the principal at the Weston Intermediate School since 2009. WIS is home to approximately 540 students in grades three, four, and five. Doreen O’Leary, a former administrator at Hurlbutt, is the school’s new assistant principal.

“We’ll be so excited to hear the voices of little children in the building again,” Ms. Falber said.

The intermediate school day runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15. Starting this year, students can come directly into their classrooms beginning at 8:15 a.m. Previously, students had to wait in hallways or on the playground until 8:30, but now, once the buses arrive, students may go right into their classrooms.

The intermediate school will continue its children’s literacy writers workshop and all students will be involved in the AIM 21st Century communications and problem-solving initiative. The AIM curriculum was previously only offered at the high school and middle school.

Ms. Falber said the intermediate school is working towards being more of a “whole school community” and will be pairing up different grades at assemblies to foster a good working relationship among all students. The school has adopted the acronym PRIDE (personal accountability, responsibility, integrity, discipline, effort), as well as a wolf mascot and wolf paw icon.

“I’m so looking forward to the school year. I know it is going to be exciting with a lot of learning, good books, and new relationships for everybody,” Ms. Falber said.

Amy Watkins is the new principal at the Weston Middle School, overseeing grades six through eight. She replaces Kenneth Craw, who is now the district’s assistant superintendent.

The day begins at 7:45 at the middle school, and ends at 2:30. This year there are about 630 students expected at the middle school.

The first day of school will be used as a full-day orientation day for sixth graders.

A major door and window replacement project was done at the middle school this summer and a ribbon-cutting ceremony has been scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 26, at 2.

At the high school

Lisa Wolak, Weston High School principal, is responsible for the town’s oldest students, those in grades nine through 12.

“I am very excited to welcome the students and staff back and look forward to a terrific year,” she said.

The high school day begins at 7:45 and students are dismissed at 2:30.

Ms. Wolak expects about 773 students at the high school this year, up from last year. “We have 25 [more] students this year,” she said.

Students have helped with preparations to open the high school next week. “Students painted welcome banners, and a new peer leadership program will enhance our ninth grade/new student orientation. We look forward to our second annual Kick Off on Sept. 7. This is also organized by students,” Ms. Wolak said.

Freshman orientation is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 24, from 9 to 11 a.m.

Ms. Wolak said the school is looking forward to homecoming activities, which begin on Oct. 22 and end with the football game on Saturday, Oct. 27.

“Last year we started another new tradition, which is an expansion of Deck the Walls. Every student advisory class decorates their classroom door as well. It was great fun,” Ms. Wolak said.

This is an important year for the high school because the New England Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges will send a visiting team in April 2013 to evaluate the school. “This takes a tremendous amount of work,” Ms. Wolak said.

New courses this year at the high school include anatomy and physiology, computer-integrated manufacturing, and introduction to economics. The school will also have an evening entrepreneurial course co-sponsored by the Weston Education Foundation.

The school will carry on a tradition started by the class of 2012 — Munchkin Mondays. “On the first Monday of every month we have Munchkin doughnuts in the morning as students walk in the door,” Ms. Wolak said.

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