Schools prepare for year of learning, growing
The linoleum is gleaming and the buses are ready to roll as Wareham Schools prepare for the first day of school on Wednesday, August 28.
This year, the schools will be celebrating a milestone anniversary, opening a time capsule, promoting good attendance, and sending more students than ever to take classes at Bridgewater State to kickstart their college careers.
Here’s a look at what’s in store.
“We’re excited every year for our new school year,” said Superintendent Kimberly Shaver-Hood. She said that, overall, the district is working to meet the needs of the students, enhance student voices, and raise academic achievement.
“When students have ownership over their education, there is much more commitment,” Shaver-Hood said. “Students need to know how to research, communicate, take ownership, and have that spark, that drive for their learning.”
Shaver-Hood also hopes parents will monitor their children’s progress and contact teachers, principals, and her office with questions or concerns.
This year parents of middle and high school students will be able to track their children’s progress in real time through the online parent portal, which allows them to see a breakdown of their students’ grades.
“I think it’s very important to work together,” Shaver-Hood said, emphasising that teachers, parents, and students all need to collaborate for the students to succeed.
For the district’s youngest students, the focus is on learning to read and having fun.
“We’re celebrating our fiftieth year here at Decas,” said Decas School Principal Bethany Chandler.
The pre-K through second grade school will be holding a Back to School night at 6 p.m. on August 26, when a time capsule made by Decas students 25 years ago will be opened.
First and second graders at Decas will start school with the rest of the district on August 28. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will begin school on September 9.
As always, the school will focus on developing literacy. Chandler said that last year, more than 50 percent of students met or exceeded the school’s end-of-year standards, which are higher than those set by the state. Out of about 162 second graders, 91 were reading at the level expected of students at the end of third grade.
Chandler is also focusing on creating an environment where students can feel comfortable and have fun.
“That’s always my goal: To create a welcoming school environment,” said Chandler.
Meanwhile big changes are taking place at the Minot Forest Elementary School, which is now housed within the Middle School. Minot Forest has its own wing and a schedule that keeps the school’s third and fourth graders separate from the older students. This year, elementary students will be able to take part in the student ambassador program as well as a Reading Buddies program with the middle schoolers. Student Ambassadors serve as hallway greeters, helping sort out lost and found items, and overseeing playgrounds to make sure the area remains clean.
“These positions make students part of the school community, they take pride in their school,” said Seamans.
The library’s Reading Buddies program pairs the younger students with middle schoolers so that they can read together.
At the Middle School, Principal Tracie Cote, along with Assistant Principals Sandi Ponte and Daniel LeFavor, are focusing this year on support for their fifth through seventh grade students. New supports for students include targeted interventions for kids struggling with English and math.
The biggest change coming to the Middle School this year is the “Every Day Counts” initiative to promote better attendance.
“We want our kids here. We want them here every single day. We want to increase our attendance. We can’t teach them as well when they’re not here,” said Ponte, who has spearheaded the initiative.
Potential incentives for students include competitions between homerooms and Principal’s luncheons.
“What we’ve really noticed is when students miss more than five days of school, it really impacts them socially, emotionally, and academically,” said Cote. “The more we can get them here to school, the better they feel about themselves, and we feel we can better accommodate their needs.”
Students at Wareham High School are enrolling in challenging classes, and they have many to choose from — including a new class where students can build an electric car, and a class on coding and gaming.
Juniors and seniors can enroll in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, which offers college-level courses and the opportunity to earn college credit. The school also offers a variety of Advanced Placement classes, which offer the opportunity to earn college credits with an exam at the end of the year. In total, 37 percent of juniors and seniors are enrolled in at least one IB or AP class.
Additionally, 32 students — more than ever before — are dual enrolled at Bridgewater State University.
“These kids start as juniors and they finish their freshman year at college before they graduate high school,” said Principal Scott Palladino. “We used to take a small van out there. Last year we switched to a small bus, and now, we need a full-sized bus to take all these kids there. I am really proud of them.”
Wareham High School will be hosting a family walk through for all incoming 8th grade students on August 22 from 6 to 7 p.m.
“In 8th grade, the clock isn’t ticking on their grade point average, and yet they are exposed to high school life. Once students start their freshman year, I want to see them ready from day one to follow a high school schedule and know a high school regime,” said Palladino. “I think being familiar with this environment is going to greatly benefit their academic success.”
For more information about all of the schools, go to www.warehamps.org.