By MADELINE HUGHES
Shelburne Community School was buzzing Tuesday as teachers put finishing touches on their classrooms ahead of Wednesday’s official start of the 2018-19 school year.
Also in the halls were eighth graders wearing bright green shirts, showing they were there to welcome the sixth graders for orientation.
Co-principals Steve Sivo and Alison Celmer sat down to talk with the Shelburne News about the new school year. They started by explaining what they call the “Where Everyone Belongs” program and the sixth-grade welcome from eighth graders was the start.
Rachel Petraska, the grade 5 to 8 counselor, and Amy Sayre, the School Assistance Program counselor, organized the orientation to help introduce the sixth graders and to give eighth graders a leadership role in the school, Sivo said.
The school leaders also ticked off a list of new staff and new twists to programs and routines that students can expect this year.
To start each day, the Fit Kids Morning Movement program is expanding to all five weekdays between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Students will be able to grab breakfast at school and play before classes begin, the principals explained.
“When people are up and moving early in the morning it helps them be successful that day,” Clemer said. “There will be stations set up and kids will be able to float between stations at their own pace. At the middle level there will be more competitive and team-building games as well.”
School officials are looking for parent volunteers to help supervise the children during that time, as well as for other programs. Parents are encouraged to contact the school for more information.
As they settle in to the new year, students will notice some physical changes to the school.
Over the summer, renovations were done to the playground, the arts and kindergarten wing, and the cafeteria.
The playground was completely replaced. The arts and kindergarten wing has new lights, ceilings and a new air-handling system that will keep kids cooler as they come back to class.
The cafeteria is more spacious after getting rid of the rarely used stage. Now the area is “a brighter, more welcoming space,” Sivo said.
Some additional safety improvements will likely happen in upcoming weeks using recently awarded state grant funding. Shelburne Community School will receive just over $16,000.
Champlain Valley School District officials would not specify the upgrades planned for each building. Instead they offered examples such as improving entry monitoring, window and door hardware, and mass-alert systems.
Juggling dismissal times
The principals said they hope one key change they’ve set in motion will have a positive impact on students, families and even people in the community who aren’t connected with the school.
They have revised the dismissal schedule for the end of the school day to address the traffic crunch along Harbor Road that often snags buses and parents trying to get students home from school along with motorists who just happen to be there when school lets out.
Under the new schedule, students riding the buses will be dismissed at 2:55 p.m. After buses leave around 3:05 p.m., students walking, biking and riding cars will be dismissed.
“We can prioritize the bulk of the kids who take the buses,” Sivo said, because when they were all released at the same time buses could often be waiting in traffic for 15 to 20 minutes trying to get up Harbor Road.
On another front, school leaders are hoping to beef up communications with the hiring of Tim O’Leary as the digital learning leader. Part of his job is updating social media as a means of outreach to the school community. Follow @SCSLearns on Twitter and find Shelburne Community School on Facebook.
In addition to O’Leary, new faces in school this year include teachers and school staff:
• Alicia Cernosia is the literacy specialist.
• Liana Gual is a grade 4 classroom teacher.
• Danielle Hardy is a PreK classroom teacher and special educator.
• Garrath Higgins is the assistant to the principal’s office.
• Hilary Rivers is the kindergarten through 2nd grade music teacher.
• Becca Shute is a grade 3 classroom teacher.
• Janet Sluzenski is the PreK through grade 4 school counselor.
• Annie Schneider is an English language learning teacher.
• Natalie Gagnon is a recess supervisor.
• Megan Bishop and Zach Piper are paraeducators.
Given the warm temperatures this week, snow days aren’t likely on anyone’s mind yet.
A peek at the school calendar shows the last day of school barring any additions for snow days: Thursday, June 13.