Successful Kick Off to New School Year in Oswego

Photos and story submitted by Bill Foley, Oswego City School District

Another school year has officially commenced.

Wednesday, September 9 nearly 4,200 Oswego City School District students returned to the classroom.

The final touches on the buildings throughout the district took place over the Labor Day weekend with the focus especially on the Oswego High School. Major work has been underway at the high school throughout the summer months. When students returned on Wednesday the new cafeteria was in service, classrooms were in order and the halls were bright and clean.

It was the same story throughout the district as mechanics had the buses prepped for opening day, custodians had prepared each classroom, food service had the first breakfast and lunch of the year, and teachers and administrators had everything in order.

The day before the students returned Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist had visited each building and welcomed the teaching staff back for another year. He told them, “We all respect what is done every day in the classroom. Your hard work is important and meaningful and it helps the community to be a better place. We are educating the next generation of Oswegonians. That’s no small task and no small charge, but I know that you are all up to it.”

On Wednesday, Crist returned to each building to welcome the students and was quite enthusiastic over opening day.

Interim Oswego High School Principal Jim Huckabee noted, “We met with all high school students by grade level to review new changes that they needed to be aware of. We covered the use of the new planners, the position that all electronic equipment needs to be out of site and turned off during the school day (or it will be confiscated and picked up by parents), the dress code and positive behavior rules and expectations were reviewed. Students were attentive and well behaved.”

Huckabee noted that the only surprise of the day came late in the afternoon when a construction worker accidentally set of the fire alarm and the building was evacuated in an orderly manner. Huckabee was quick to note, “People need to realize that this is an active construction site and these alarms can be set off.”

Shortly after 7 a.m. outside of the Oswego Middle School many teachers started lining up forming lines as students arrived. Principal Bonnie Finnerty, joined by Assistant Principal Intern Sean Fahey, organized the students by grade level and then they were applauded, ‘high fived’ and welcomed as they headed toward their respective seventh and eighth grade wings.

Once again the annual home and school sponsored picnic saw students renew and make new friendships and allowed them to settle comfortably in to the new school year.

Later in the day the students were transported to the Oswego High School Faust Theatre for an assembly. Finnerty explained, “Construction is still continuing on the gymnasium floor and it should be ready sometime in October. We transported all of our students to the Oswego High School for an assembly to kick off the new school and to get students off on the right foot.”

The majority of students heading into the elementary schools were smiling and prepared to commence a new school year.

Frederick Leighton Elementary Home and School Association sponsored a “Boo Hoo Breakfast” for kindergarten parents to gather, meet each other and share refreshments after dropping their children off in their classrooms.

Principal Julie Burger said, “The first day of school was filled with smiling student faces coming through our doors. Students were busy catching up on what their friends did over the summer, finding out what friends are in their classrooms and meeting their teachers. It was a great day filled with the excitement a new school year brings! “

At Minetto Elementary School Principal Dean Goewey was forced to miss opening day due to an illness, but Carrie Plasse, the district’s math coordinator was on hand to oversee the day.

She noted, “Minetto’s opening was fun and fantastic. The students entered the building with filled back packs and smiles on their faces, ready to begin the new school year. Throughout the day, the teachers had engaging activities planned that were designed to introduce their students to the rules and routines of their classrooms. The day ended with a school wide assembly called “The Behavior is Right” to promote positive behavior.”

Nervous kindergarten students received added attention as Fitzhugh Park Principal Donna Simmons noted, “Fitzhugh Park students came in with huge smiles, anticipation about what was to come, and some of our little ones had butterflies in their stomachs! There were a few Kindergarten students who didn’t know their first or last name but I’m sure that was due to their shyness and the overwhelming feeling of such a big school. We took extra special care of them and saw to it they felt safe and welcome.”

Continuing she said, “As I visited each classroom students were learning the expectations of their classroom as well as the school expectations. Many activities focused on building a sense of community within the classroom so students could get to know each other a little better. Overall, everything went off without a hitch and everyone had an awesome first day! “

It was a smooth opening at Charles E. Riley Elementary School. Principal Dr. Randy Richards gave credit to his staff as he said, “Riley had a great opening as the custodial team had the building in perfect over. Richards said. I also credit the faculty and staff for their preparation and professionalism. As ‘Learning is first a social activity’ teachers spent large amounts of time, getting to know the students, and their interests , while detailing school rules, procedures and most importantly expectations.. Time invested at the beginning, pays great dividends for learning the rest of the year.”

The Riley Home School Association has rebuilt the School Store, located in the Main Lobby. Richards explained, “It is visually very attractive, featuring the school mascot and colors.” Also, a beautiful mural adorns one wall in the lobby, welcoming students back with a PBIS message, courtesy of art teacher Becky Woods

Meanwhile, at Kingsford Park Elementary School Principal Mary Volkomer closed the first day of school with an assembly focusing on positive behavior and then every member of the KPS school community gathered in the parking lot for the annual photograph which included hundreds of people.

Throughout the day “Expectations” provided the focal point as they will be during the new school year. It is important to that faculty and staff engage students from the very beginning.

Crist summarized the day by saying, “I want to thank everyone for what was an excellent opening day for our students.”

Crist addressed the effort of the district staff and said, “Your collective ability to think on your feet, be flexible, focused and determined, while continuing your individual commitment to excellence, all contributed to a great start to this school year.”