Weston schools gear up for first day

Weston public schools open Aug. 31. —Margaret Wirtenberg illustration

Weston public schools open Aug 31. —Margaret Wirtenberg illustration

As summer slowly winds down, Weston is gearing up for the first day of school on Thursday, Aug. 31.

More than 2,300 students are expected to pass through the doors of Weston’s four public schools.

As of Thursday, Aug. 17 a total of 2,339 students were either registered for classes or had their registrations pending.

The numbers show 110 kindergarteners entering Hurlbutt Elementary School, along with 142 first-graders, and 146 second-graders. There will also be 26 pre-k students.

At Weston Intermediate School, there will be 155 third-graders, 177 fourth-graders and 178 fifth- graders.

At Weston Middle School there will be 197 sixth-graders, 189 seventh-graders and 210 eighth- graders.

Weston High School will be home to 210 freshmen, 186 sophomores, 207 juniors and 206 seniors.

While many families may not be ready yet to say goodbye to summer vacation time, Superintendent William McKersie said he is looking forward to his second year at the helm of the Weston school district.

“The most exciting aspect about Weston for me is that the school system is large and robust enough to have comprehensive programs that service all students academically, athletically and artistically,” said McKersie. “But we’re also small enough to have connections with each student on an individual basis.”

McKersie said he is anticipating “walking through the hallways and being on the sidelines” while maintaining a visibility and connection to students and staff members.

“I wore out two pairs of shoes walking around the campus last year,” said McKersie. “I’m looking forward to wearing out another two pair this year.”


The school campus has undergone some changes and sprucing up over the summer.

“These last few weeks before school are crunch time for us,” said Joseph Olenik, director of school facilities. “Everything is looking awesome right now. Having clean, updated facilities are important for having a premium education.”

Olenik said the facilities team has worked on some capital projects over the summer, including the addition of air conditioning to South House and East House at Hurlbutt, the addition of a security office to Hurlbutt and the installation of 32 “smart projectors” spread throughout the four schools.

“It takes us all summer to get ready for the new school year,” said Olenik. “We’ve got a lot to do. We have to make sure the floors are waxed, the light fixtures and vents are clean, any minor problem with the desks are fixed, it’s a busy summer for us.”

Olenik’s final week before school starts include walking the grounds of each school with McKersie to ensure everything is running smoothly and looks up to par.

“It comes down to taking tours of all the buildings,” Olenik said. “We’re checking cleanliness, we’re looking to find any flaws. I don’t think there will be anything big.”

Coherence and cohesion

McKersie said his biggest challenge in his second year as superintendent is to continue to strengthen Weston’s “coherence and cohesion.”

“Those attributes are already present but I need to work to improve them further,” he said. “We’re currently working on updating goals and priorities so each department in each school will have clear objectives for the staff that will guide the students to success.”

The system’s big goals, according to McKersie, are to ensure academic excellence, provide “advantages for digital learning,” create a healthy learning environment,” gauge progress in robust ways” and “provide ample resources for learning.”

“We’re not embarking on new goals for the students and the system,” said McKersie. “We’re very explicit to the staff about priorities and goals, nothing is necessarily new. It’s all well-understood.”

A new initiative this year is creation of a task force to curb drug and alcohol use, led by WHS principal Lisa Deorio and WMS principal Dan Doak. McKersie said Deorio and Doak will report to the Board of Education in September to explain the goals and actions of the task force.

“Simply put, we’re trying to be very explicit that students shouldn’t be making the choice to engage in drugs and alcohol,” said McKersie.

According to McKersie nearly 40% of Weston High School seniors acknowledged drinking alcohol or using marijuana in an anonymous survey.

“These numbers are very similar to other area districts and I am speaking with other superintendents on how to address this issue,” McKersie. “Parents in town have been happy that we’re being overt about this and specifics on how we decide to tackle this issue will be forthcoming.”


Before school starts next Thursday, there are a variety of events for new students to get accustomed to Weston schools.

Friday Aug. 25, there is a new student orientation for Grade 1 and 2 students at Hurlbutt from 9 to 10 a.m.

There is also an intermediate school new student orientation from 10:15 until 11:15 a.m. on Aug. 25 at WIS and a new student orientation for middle school students from 11:30 until 1:30 p.m. at WMS.

There will a freshman and new high school student orientation from 1 to 3 p.m. at the high school on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

Also on Aug. 30 there is a kindergarten and pre-k Meet the Teacher event from noon to 12:45 p.m. at Hurlbutt. The grade 1 Meet the Teacher event is from 1 to 1:45 p.m. and the event for second-graders is from 2 to 2:45 p.m.

Third-graders looking to meet their teachers can attend their event from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. at WIS.

There are nine “back-to-school nights” scattered throughout September:

  • Pre-K and Kindergarten — Tuesday Sept. 5, 7 p.m. at Hurlbutt South House Cafeteria
  • First grade — Wednesday, Sept. 13, 7 p.m. at Hurlbutt South House Cafeteria
  • Second grade — Tuesday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m. at Hurlbutt South House Cafeteria
  • Third grade — Thursday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. at WIS Cafetorium
  • Fourth grade — Tuesday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. at WIS Cafetorium
  • Fifth grade — Tuesday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m. at WIS Cafetorium
  • Sixth grade — Wednesday, Sept. 6, 7 p.m. at WMS Library
  • Seventh and eighth grade — Thursday, Sept. 14, 7 p.m. at WMS Library
  • High school — Thursday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m. at WHS Auditorium

Students will be at school two days, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, before having a three-day weekend. Labor Day is Monday Sept. 4.

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