Long summer break leads to strong start for the school year

educationBy JEN CARDINES


The Southington Board of Education (BOE) kicked off the year with an upbeat meeting on Thursday, Sept. 8 after one of the town’s longest summer recesses. Superintendent Timothy Connellan greeted board members with a positive report for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

With a long summer, custodial staff were able to achieve high marks during Connellan’s annual tour of the schools, but that wasn’t the only impressive factor in reports to the BOE.

Elementary teachers were more than satisfied with the students, especially kindergarteners, for their maturity and knowledge.

This year’s three BOE student representatives were announced, Samantha Martins, Samantha Steeves, and Joseph Martin, and the group made its report. Martins reported a considerably larger freshman class, containing about 580 students.

Upperclassmen were invited to the college fair on Sept. 14 where more than 100 colleges were present. Further, the high school’s open house was Sept. 15 for parents to walk through their children’s daily schedule.

Steeves said that sports and extracurricular activities began, noting football’s preseason win over Xavier, 42-7. Pizza night was scheduled for Sept. 13 at SHS, where all local pizza restaurants showed representation.

Southington’s director of summer programs, Dave DeStefano, spoke about the successful summer school and camp programs. Middle and elementary incentive programs started July 5, while the 18-day high school program began June 30. The programs have grown in enrollment over the years, and proved to be beneficial.

“Every student that attended was able to get a credit back,” DeStefano said.

Camp Invention met enrollment capacity by April 3, and Southington was the first district in Connecticut to meet the maximum. The one-week camp is a hands-on environment for young students to explore and show their creativity.

DeStefano said he believes the re-designed website aided in promotion and enrollment in both summer school programs and Camp Intensive. The special education department had new features to report this year.  For the first time in district history, all paraprofessionals were in one place at one time for professional development training which came from the new contract.

A new fifth-year program piloted this year for special education students ages 18-21 called Southington’s Transitional Education in Life Learning and Adult Responsibilities (STELLAR). Hosted by Lincoln College, the program is designed for students to be with people their own age, learning life skills through various learning mechanisms.

With just a few weeks under their belts, students already have many programs to take advantage of this year. The Board said they were pleased with the positive feedback they received upon schools’ start, and Connellan said it was a “really good and smooth opening all the way around.”

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