Throwing in the beach towel, opening the books

Saturday August 17, 2013

Back to school can be a crazy time. As the summer months wind down, the heat is on. Students need to prepare their return to the classroom with back-to-school shopping, shifts to a school-friendly sleeping schedule, and the rush to finish their summer reading projects.

Valuable for relaxing, volunteering, working and hanging out with friends and family, summer is fun. However, summer is completely different from time spent at school, so the transition can be rough. Principals from three local schools weighed in with some helpful words for students.

Class resumes at Brattleboro Union High School on Aug. 29 for grade 9 and on Aug. 30 for grades 10 to 12. This coming year at BUHS, there will be nine new staff members, and the school is preparing for their re-accreditation with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, which happens every 10 years.

Principal Steve Perrin advised incoming students to get involved and to use the opportunities available at the school. Perrin emphasized that there is something "for all students. Everything from sports to a chess club to environmental action clubs." In order to help students be aware of all the extracurricular activities available, BUHS will be hosting an activity day, possibly even a fair.

School starts at Leland and Grey Union Middle and High school on Aug. 27 for 7th graders and on Aug. 28 for all other students. There will be two new teachers joining the team, Sarah Birgé, teaching 8th grade English, and Elizabeth Brown, teaching algebra and geometry. In addition, Nika Oakes will be working in the planning room, and Jaclyn Hamilton will be the new Student Assistance Professional. New absence and tardiness rules can be found in the student handbook, available online. Principal Dorinne Dorfman gave some words of advice to incoming 7th graders:

"Welcome to Leland and Gray! Over the past few months, your new teachers have gotten to know you during visits and the SEEK camp. Come to school ready to enjoy your learning and travels into high school and adult life. Science, technology, literature, mathematics, the arts, and so much more will increase in challenge and joy in your accomplishments as a student, classmate, and teammate. Give your all in every subject -- engage your mind and heart because your education is all connected, from the vocabulary words in social studies class to the assist on the soccer field."

Dorfman also gave a few words to 9th Graders:

"Now in high school, your freedoms and responsibilities grow, as will your ability to perform your best with greater capability and confidence. Your leadership is needed to share Leland and Gray into the high school of your dreams that prepares you for a fulfilling future. Leadership in classes and after-school programs, in Spirit games, and in collaboration with both middle and high school students and staff. Arrive on time, meet all your deadlines, and seize the learning opportunities every day!"

School starts at Hinsdale Middle and High School with an orientation for 6th graders on Aug. 26. at 6 p.m. On Aug. 28, classes begin.

Students at Hinsdale High School can look forward to HIP, the Hinsdale Intervention Program, which will provide students a time block on Mondays, during which they will meet with a around seven other students and an advisor.

"We're really trying to personalize instruction," said Principal Ann Freitag, and HIP is part of this initiative. HIP provides a time to work with student's goal and assess their progress. Students who are struggling will be able to schedule extra time with their teachers for assistance. Students who are doing well will be provided further opportunities to excel; in addition, they will be allowed to attend enrichment programs, in lieu of HIP. HIP is "another avenue to work independently," said Freitag.

Freitag suggested that students also review their wardrobes to ensure they have outfits in compliance with the new dress code.

Back to school isn't only an exciting time for freshman. Perrin was speaking in regards to his students at BUHS, but his advice may be useful for everyone. High school is not "not the end of your education. It is just a step along the way. Continue to focus on what you doing after high school." Whether college or career, planning for the future should start now, said Perrin.

Lillian Podlog will be a junior at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., this fall. She is interning at the New England Center for Circus Arts.


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