UPDATE: Smooth Opening for New School Year; Some Transportation Concerns Raised
More than 4,000 students commenced the new year in the Oswego City School District on Wednesday.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Gary Mix was touched by the positive atmosphere that permeated the district on opening day.
He said, “Watching the many examples of care and concern for our students helped to energize my thinking and my pride in being an educator. In my visits to buildings I was pleased to note how friendly, welcoming and helpful the faculty and staff were to students and parents.”
Board of Education President Kathleen Allen said, “I visited a few schools on opening day and it was great to see so much excitement in our district buildings again. I am looking forward to a great year in the Oswego City School District.”
Continuing she noted, “As Cathy Chamberlain (Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Curriculum) and I visited the buildings we had the pleasure of observing some wonderful examples of proficient planning and excellent implementation of effective lesson plans.”
The first to arrive to begin the 2013-14 school year were Oswego High School, The BUC and Oswego Middle School students as they departed their buses shortly before 7:30 a.m. Just over an hour and fifteen minutes later the five elementary schools came to life as nearly 2,200 students arrived.
From the youngest students who were anxious about attending their very first day to the veteran teachers of 35 years or more the new year brought a new beginning.
Oswego High School Principal Brian Hartwell noted, “This is a new beginning for all of our students, teachers and staff. One thing about education is that each year everyone has the opportunity to begin anew. I am looking forward to the upcoming school year and it was a great opening day.”
Hartwell was still excited over the fact that the OHS graduation rate has increased dramatically in the past year and that the Oswego High School had the largest increase in graduation rate in Oswego County moving 82% from 69% four years ago.
The new school year brought 1,200 students to the Oswego High School and 578 to the Oswego Middle School.
Meanwhile, another 58 students settled in at The BUC which is an alternative high school now based in the Education Center.
Principal Debra Smith and her team welcomed the students from grades seven through ten. As part of the festivities the students enjoyed a barbeque of hot dogs, pasta salad, chips, cookies and lemonade hosted by the parents in conjunction with the Oswego City School District Food Service program.
The elementary schools saw 2,189 students enter the buildings on the opening day of school.
Many students arrived at the schools after being introduced to a new transportation program that had been adopted by the district.
Transportation Director Bill Myer noted, “In the past students have looked for red, blue or orange or other color buses. This year we went with animal names. “ The reason was relatively simple. Myer continued, “In the past we might have had red or blue buses. Someone would call the transportation center saying their child wasn’t riding the bus, but wouldn’t give a full name. We had to spend a substantial amount of time looking up names to see how they match up with the bus list. With 43 bus routes it was just easier to give them animal names. I think it will make it much more efficient.”
The elementary schools provided a variety of activities for opening day.
Among the more unique was the Boo Hoo Breakfast sponsored by the Frederick Leighton Elementary School for parents of incoming kindergartners. They were able to enjoy coffee and pastries while being welcomed to the “Leighton Family” by home and school association officers, Principal Julie Burger and Board of Education President Kathleen Allen and board member Tom DeCastro.
Later in the day, what has become an annual tradition, took place in the parking lot of the Kingsford Park Elementary School as the entire student body and staff joined together for the annual photo as District Clerk Bill Foley and board member Sam Tripp were on the roof high above the hundreds of excited students.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Mix noted, “ Unfortunately we did have some issues with the afternoon transportation that resulted in significant delays in transporting students home. As a parent I understand the concerns when our children do not arrive home in a timely manner. I apologize for the problems that we experienced and assure you that we will be working diligently to correct the problems.”
However, Mix noted, “I saw two things that really touched my heart today while driving between buildings. The first was a high school student who was riding her bike to school and carrying a musical instrument in a back pack type of case. She looked very responsible, independent and positive. The second was an elderly gentleman sitting on a bench, he had a cane and was sitting next to a young boy who I assumed was his grandson. They were obviously waiting for a school bus. The boy had on new clothes and the care of the grandfather was quite evident.”
Continuing he said, “These three people caused me to reflect on how blessed I feel that I have chosen a career in public education. It made me once again think about the incredible trust that families have in public educators and the tremendous responsibility that we have to bring our “A” game every single day.”
A new year has begun and for some students the educational journey is just beginning while for the members of the “Class of 2014” the Oswego School District experience is coming to an end.
ORIGINAL INFO BELOW
OSWEGO, NY – It may have been the end of summer vacation, but scores of students returning to school Wednesday didn’t seem to mind at all.
Opening day of the 2013–14 school year resembled a large family reunion all across the district. Students exchanged hugs and high-fives at all the schools as friends were reunited after the hot and humid summer. They compared notes about their new teachers and classes as well as about how they spent their summer.
“I’m very, very excited. I have a very nice teacher this year,” exclaimed on Riley Elementary student. “She doesn’t get mad; unless you make her mad.”
Second grader Frank Thorpe said he was happy to go back to school.
“I can see my friends and play,” he said. “I will learn a lot, too!”
Mariah Ruggio said she is going into first grade.
She wasn’t sure what she was going to learn in her new class, but acknowledged her teacher “is real nice!”
Mary Beth Fierro greeted parents and students as she made her way into Oswego Middle School.
“There’s a lot of excitement this morning,” the OMS principal told Oswego County Today. “Everyone is excited to be back. We’re looking forward to another very good year.”
Oswego’s Interim Superintendent of Schools Gary Mix echoed the students’ enthusiasm.
“It’s an exciting day. Everyone’s enthusiasm was evident at all the schools I visited the schools,” he said. “All of the students look like they’re to get right back to work.”
“I’m excited, just like the kids are,” Fierro added. “We have a great staff here and a great bunch of students. I think we are going to have a real good year!”
“It is wonderful to see our students and staff back from summer vacation,” said school board vice president Sam Tripp. “We are looking forward to a great year of learning, and making new friendships.”
He and board president Kathleen Allen met with many students, faculty and staff on opening day.
“As a district, we are very excited as this year we are challenged with rolling out the new resources that align with the new common core in both mathematics and ELA. We have been training teachers on these resources throughout the summer. We will begin to use these resources which were created by companies that the New York State Education Department contracted,” Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Cathy Chamberlain said. “The materials are all available online for anyone to review.”
Teachers in grades K-6 will begin the roll out as the district has adopted these resources for these grades.
Grades 7-12 are still reviewing and most have decided to adapt the materials.
“There is still much to review at these levels,” Chamberlain said. “These materials are more rigorous and focus on the content our students need to know. We will continue our professional development throughout the year so that teachers glean the deep understanding of the shifts in the new common core so that they become proficient in making these instructional changes in their daily lessons.”
The district also has some lead teachers who received professional development from the state so they could in turn train the trainers in their buildings.
“We look forward to the coming year and know that the common focus throughout the district and the work that lies ahead will all move us toward continually improving the academic achievement of our students,” Chamberlain said.