Principals give school year’s start high marks

Sep 10, 2021

The first week of classes has been exciting — and a little confusing — for students at Wareham schools, principals reported at the Sept. 9 School Committee meeting. 

Since a number of students have been learning exclusively remotely since the spring of 2020, there are first graders at Decas Elementary who have never used a lunch tray before, Decas Principal Bethany Chandler said. 

At the middle school, sixth graders are getting lost in the halls, Principal Tracie Cote said.

Each principal gave the committee a brief update.

Wareham High School

Wareham High Principal Scott Palladino said that his school has “a great start to the year” with “unbelievable attendance rates.” There are currently 633 students at the high school, which includes eighth to twelfth graders.

Fall sports have begun, which he said helps give students structure and keep them focused.

The school has unveiled a new schedule with shorter classes that meet more frequently.

Committee member Apryl Rossi said she’d heard concerns on social media about how hot the high school is. Palladino said that much of the school is not air conditioned, and is often too hot for the first and last two weeks of the year. He said it should cool down soon. 

PASS Program

Jane Fondulis, director of the PASS program, said that it’s been great for her program to be back in person. She estimates there will be 45 students in the program, which allows high schoolers to take classes at night, when registration is complete. 

Wareham Middle School

“I would describe the middle school this year as happy,” said Principal Tracie Cote. She has 463 students registered to attend the Middle School in the fifth, sixth, and seventh grade.

She said her students are excited to see their friends. 

The school has been working to help students who struggled during the pandemic. Far more students than usual attended summer school this year — 53, as opposed to a more typical 15 or 20. Now that the academic year has started, Cote said that the school has reinstated classes that help students who need help with homework improve their skills like staying organized while providing those students a go-to support person at school.

Minot Forest Elementary School

“Knock on wood, it’s gone very smoothly,” said Principal Joan Seamans. 

Seamans said she hosted tours before the school year began to help students get oriented. With some more relaxed guidelines, there are more desks in classrooms and more decorations on the wall, making the school — located within the Middle School — feel more welcoming to the 322 third and fourth graders who attend it. 

Seamans said she is hoping to bring back band and chorus classes this year. The school has ordered special masks that kids can wear while playing wind instruments, and recently received a number of donated ukuleles and guitars.

John W. Decas Elementary School

The Decas School is bustling this fall with a student population up 100 kids from last year to a total of 626 students. 

Teachers are working to help kids get adjusted to school and assess their academic skills, Chandler said. Recently, some teachers took part in professional development focused on mindfulness and literacy strategies that work.

Chandler said highlights cited by students included making new friends, food, and coloring. Preschoolers said they enjoyed playing with new toys and taking a nap.