By SHERIDAN CYR
Lunchboxes were packed, backpacks were zipped up, shoelaces were tied tight and smiles stretched wide. Young ones and their parents across the country knows that the end-of-August, early-September means only one thing: school is in session.
Southington Public Schools welcomed students in to the 2018-2019 school year on Aug. 30. Teachers and administration helped students off of buses, while parents walked other scholars to the door, stopping for photos and quick fixes to hair bows and shirt collars.
“The first day of school is always very exciting,” superintendent Tim Connellan said at Thalberg Elementary School. “It’s so much fun talking with the students and their families.”
Connellan said he tries to visit as many of the 12 district schools as possible on the first day of school, but that was difficult this year. Unseasonably high temperatures forced early closures of Southington’s elementary schools since many aren’t air conditioned.
“I’m trying to get to the elementary schools first since they have an early dismissal today,” said the superintendent. “We have to do what’s best for our students.”
Connellan said that he was impressed at the way students handled the high temperatures, pointing to his cool reception at the high school despite the heat wave.
“I was holding the door open for students as they made their way in, and all of them were saying ‘thank you’ and ‘good morning,’” he said. “It’s such a small thing, but it speaks to the kindness of our students and to their families.”
At Thalberg, parents and students took the opportunity to meet their new principal. Katherine Reeves greeted students warmly as she made her way around the crowd.
“The students are finally here, and I’m getting to see all of their smiling faces,” said the rookie principal. A Southington resident, Reeves comes with experience as a principal in the town of Enfield, and is ready to hit the ground running.
“Thalberg is a great school, with great students, and great families who support their children,” she said. “I plan to spend some time settling into the new school, and just seeing what works around here, and we’ll see where we go from there.”
Board of Education members made their way from school to school, as well, eager to greet incoming students.
“It’s so important to be here on the first day. We get to see first-hand why we do what we do on the board,” said Patricia Queen (R).
“It’s the crescendo of summer, as Mr. Connellan says,” said Colleen Clark (R). As a preschool teacher in town for 20 years, Clark said she enjoys seeing former students grow each year. “The learning begins on the very first day. It’s amazing how quickly they acclimate to the school-setting after the summer ends. There’s a lot of excitement right now, but two hours from now, the learning will have already begun.”
To comment on the story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.