PARIS — New school roofs, new teachers, new programs and a lot more will welcome students as they return to classes for the 2016-17 school year next week.
Students in grades kindergarten through seven and students in grade nine arrive back to school on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Students in grades eight and 10 -12 go back to school on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
“We have had an unusually busy summer as we prepare for the opening of school,” Superintendent Rick Colpitts said.
From making repairs, including major paving and roof projects, that were funded through voter approval of a $1.25 million bond in June, to hiring more than 45 new staff members district-wide, SAD 17 staff have been busy this summer, he said.
“We are excited by the quality of the candidates we’ve engaged and look forward to seeing them in action with students,” Colpitts said of the new staff members.
The majority of the district-wide renovations have been completed for the opening but some will not be done for a while longer, Colpitts said.
“We still have several projects that have been delayed in order to take advantage of a competitive bid process. The Agnes Gray School bus loop and parking lot project will begin after school opens. The bleachers at the Gouin Athletic Complex are scheduled to be replaced in late October. The track will be resurfaced this fall or early spring,” he said.
On the district-wide instructional level, Colpitts said students will be released every Wednesday one hour early this school year so staff can focus on developing a proficiency-based diploma during the additional professional development time.
At Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, Principal Ted Moccia said the school building is in top shape thanks to the hard work of the custodians, paint crew and maintenance staff to welcome freshmen, who will arrive first on Tuesday, Aug. 30, one day behind their upper classmates.
For the second year in a row, junior and senior students in the Mentor Program will work with incoming freshmen in an orientation program designed to help the new students transition into high school, Moccia said.
Staff will also be busy with professional development this year.
“The staff will focus on instruction and formative assessment this year and will be dedicating almost all of our professional development time to this issue,” he said.
At Oxford Hills Technical School Director Shawn Lambert said the school looks great and the staff is “recharged and ready to go.”
“We’re especially excited to offer our new plumbing program,” Lambert said. “The instructor is Tom Cassidy, a master plumber who has taught at the high school and professional level in Massachusetts for years.”
At Oxford Hills Middle School, Principal Troy Eastman said he and his staff are looking forward to kicking off a new school year at the middle school.
Hart said Rowe Elementary will have 15 new staff members – three math and reading interventionists and coaches, interim head custodian and 11 classroom teachers. A total of 58 teachers and support staff will be on hand to greet the incoming 508 pre-kindergarten through grade six students this year.
A new math curriculum – Investigations 3 – which involves hands-on, technology and student-centered learning tasks and activities, will be introduced this year, he said.
Hart said the school building has had a thorough cleaning and renovations this summer including upgrades of the cafeteria tables, painting of the stairwells, hallway door frames and walls, and ceilings of several classrooms in addition to a new building roofs, parking lot paving, fencing on the front playground and Main Street entrance steps among other repairs.
“Our school building is one of the older ones in SAD 17,” Hart said. “We treasure its character and history!”
Hart said Pre-Kindergarten Open House will be tonight, Thursday, Aug.25, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and for grades one-six on Tuesday, Sept. 6 from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m.
At Oxford Elementary School and Otisfield Community School, Principal Tiffany Karnes said a number of new staff are joining veteran staff members to greet students as they arrive back to school on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
“Our teachers have taken time out of their summer for professional development to prepare to implement our new math program, Investigations 3,” Karnes said. “While many of them are familiar with the Investigations program, they spent time learning about the new digital components of the program to ensure that they are ready for the start of school.”
Oxford Elementary School will host a Back to School Open House on Monday, Aug. 29, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. so families can meet their new teachers and find their classrooms before the first day of school. An open house at Otisfield Community School will be held after school begins. Students will bring home information on that event when a date and time are finalized, she said.
“We look forward to opening our doors to students for the 2016-2017 school year which promises to be the best one yet,” said Karnes.
Beth Clarke, principal at Hebron Station School, said new staff there includes Wendi Benedict, fourth-grade teacher; Sarah Demer, educational technician, and Sharon Merrill, art teacher.
Open House will take place on Thursday, Sept. 8, from 6 to 7 p.m.
“We are incredibly excited to welcome back our students on the 30th and look forward to another year of learning together,” she said.
At Agnes Gray School, where Clarke also serves as principal, Clark said new staff includes: Bette Britton, educational technician; Martha Thompson, educational technician; Jeanne Feder, special education case manager; Jenn Chaffin, first-grade teacher; Karin Bisson, second-grade teacher; Judy Harrison, music teacher; Kim Kangas-Smith, physical education teacher, and Samantha Armstron, art teacher.
“We are excited about the start of school and look forward to welcoming back our West Paris families,” Clarke said.
Open House at Agnes Gray School will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15, from 6 to 7 p.m.