Friday, June 10, 2016

A few thoughts at year’s end

As we get ready to close the book on the 2015-16 school year, I want to wish the Class of 2016 the best of luck as they begin the next phase of their lives. I hope that your experiences—in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and participating in extracurricular activities throughout your years in Watervliet’s schools—have given you the confidence and the foundation for success whether you are continuing your education at a two- or four-year college, pursuing a career or enlisting in military service for our country.

To members of the Class of 2016, you are forever Cannoneers — represent our schools well, continue to make us proud!

High school graduation will take place Thursday, June 23 beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Harry Tucker gymnasium.

The end of the school year is both an exciting and emotional time; this is as true for sixth-graders (and their parents) as it is for our graduating seniors. Sixth-graders, too, are facing an important change next year as they leave the familiar surroundings of Watervliet Elementary School and the teachers and staff they know so well. To begin the adjustment, sixth-grade students and their parents had an opportunity to tour the junior high school and meet guidance counselors and administrators on May 4 during Grade 6 Transition Night. Then during the week of May 16, all grade 6 classes visited seventh-grade classrooms during the school day to meet teachers and get a preview of life as a junior high student. Looking ahead, on Tuesday, Sept. 6, all incoming seventh-graders are encouraged to attend orientation at 1 p.m. to receive their schedules, locker numbers and combinations and have an opportunity to ask questions before the first day of school.

I look forward to welcoming the Class of 2022 to Watervliet Jr./Sr. High School in September!

The Grade 6 Moving Up ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22 at 9:30 a.m. in the high school auditorium.

Tweaks to Pivot Program next year

Speaking of transitions, a few changes are in store for our Grade 9 Pivot Program next year. After evaluating the program throughout its first year, and listening to feedback from students and parents alike, school administrators and the program director have decided to make Pivot a 3-day program rather than four days as it was this year. When the program resumes in September, it will take place after-school Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. This change will provide students two days per week to meet with their regular classroom teachers as needed, and receive support that will help them remain in good standing academically, while participating in the collaborative projects as required by the Pivot program.

The Pivot Program is structured to help students develop the skills necessary to successfully complete high school and be better equipped for the challenges of pursuing a college education or entering the workforce. Students attend career talks, complete a job shadow experience and participate in college visits throughout the school year.

I remind parents and incoming ninth-graders that the Pivot Program is a graded course for which students receive one high school credit; as such, class attendance and participation are necessary for students to be successful. The Pivot program has come a long way during its first year, and I look forward to continuing to provide this experience to our ninth grade students moving forward.

PTA meet and greet with new principal 

WES families are invited to a meet and greet with recently named elementary principal Loida Lewinter at the WES PTA’s final meeting of the school year on Tuesday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. Mrs. Lewinter has served as the assistant principal at Watervliet Jr./Sr. High School since 2014. She is a skilled and dedicated educator who has done an excellent job supporting teachers, staff and her administrative peers, as well as building strong relationships with students through the successful Character Education/No Place for Hate program over the past two years. Please join us in welcoming Mrs. Lewinter to the elementary school.

Thanks for supporting education

On behalf of the Board of Education and myself, I thank everyone who took time to participate in the school budget vote and Board of Education election on May 17. I am grateful for the continued community support for our schools. Despite low voter turnout again this year, our budget passed by a nearly 80 percent margin.

As we near the start of summer break, I want to recognize our teachers and instructional support staff for the dedication, talent, energy and care they bring to educating our diverse student population. Despite the financial limitations inherent in a small city school district like ours, we continue to find ways to leverage our resources to support student success. I value your efforts and your commitment to making a positive difference for every student, every day.

For our teachers who are retiring this year following many years of service to the district — Lori Habernig, Cheryl Hotaling and Tony Curro —  I wish you all the best in the next chapter of your lives. Your contributions to the success of our students and our district have been immeasurable.

Have a relaxing, safe and well-deserved summer break. I look forward to welcoming you back in September!

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