Classrooms burst with life with new themes

By LISA CAPOBIANCO

STAFF WRITER

As the new school year approaches, teachers of all eight elementary schools have brought their classrooms to life with distinct themes and decorations.

Third grade teacher Sarah Turci from South End Elementary School knew without a doubt that “the beach” would be her classroom theme. Every year, her family stays at a beach house in Maine, so she wanted to incorporate her love for water and sand into her classroom. Between seashells, starfish, and pictures of the waves, Turci brought a variety of decorations from her favorite vacation spot. She also set up beach chairs in the reading corner surrounded by nonfiction and fiction books and displayed a sign on the bulletin board titled, “By the Sea.” Turci said she is excited for the new school year, especially since this is her first year of teaching.

“I can’t wait to start,” Turci said. “I’ve been waiting for this experience forever.”

Claire DiCenzo from Thalberg Elementary School also has a similar theme in her first grade classroom: “under the sea.” Between labeling name tags on the desks and displaying classroom job charts, DiCenzo wanted the classroom to have a “beach-like” style. She even created a sign titled, “You Are ‘Ofishally’ in First Grade,” and she also incorporated Dr. Seuss into the classroom.

“I love the beach and I love Dr. Seuss,” DiCenzo said.

This is the first year DiCenzo will teach first graders, and she said the underwater theme will give students the opportunity “to have fun” in the classroom. Assembling four to five desks together in the center of the classroom, DiCenzo said she hopes all 18 students will get to know each other more this year.

Another teacher from Thalberg also tapped into  her creativity for classroom preparations. Jennifer Valentine is a new third grade teacher there, and she turned her classroom into Hollywood. Between displaying a cardboard figure of an Oscars trophy and rolling out a red carpet on the floor, Valentine wanted to share her passion for the movies with her students. She will even feature a “Readbox”—an academic version of the Redbox in which students can “rent out” books that Valentine recommends.

“Having a theme makes kids excited in the classroom,” Valentine said.

Kindergarten teachers also have decorated their classrooms with the hope of making their first full-day students feel comfortable. Lindsay Veronneau from Kelley Elementary School has a “welcome” theme in her classroom with a library of fiction and nonfiction books, bright posters and signs with poetic phrases, and a play area full of puppets, puzzles, and blocks. There is also a whiteboard to promote writing skills. Veronneau said she wanted to make the classroom look “as friendly as possible.”

Other teachers look forward to incorporating bright colors and decorations into their classrooms. Penny Bianchini from Kelley School said she “loves penguins,” so she will display decorations of her favorite bird everywhere in her classroom. Organizing a shelf for her classroom’s writing workshop, Bianchini said she also looks forward to meeting her new first graders.

“It’s nice to get a new group of kids and to get to know them,” she said.

Second grade teacher Gina Calandra from Derynoski Elementary School also said she gets excited for every new school year. This is the second school year in which she will display bumblebees along with her students’ best work on a blackboard with a sign titled, “Work to Bee Proud Of.” Calandra said she finds joy in watching her students grow by the end of the year.

“Everything is fresh and new,” Calandra said. “By the end of the year, we’re really a family.”

Comments? Email lcapobianco@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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