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Beecher Ready to Welcome Back Students
‘Elves’ to Continue Upgrades While Students Are OutBy Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent
For the past eight weeks, Beecher Road School Superintendent Dr. Guy Stella couldn’t enter his school unless he was wearing a hard hat, but starting this week, he can put the hat away, at least temporarily. With the construction project at Beecher Road School continuing at a frantic pace, Dr. Stella expects things to be in order and ready to welcome back first the teachers, then students on Tuesday, September 2. “What we want to display is a “yes, can-do attitude,” he said, as all stake-holders, including staff and administration, but also the construction crew, custodial staff and parents work hand-in-hand to move the building project ahead.
This is the first leg of an 18-month, $13.4 million building upgrade, which includes a new roof and a total HVAC overhaul. “We have two goals,” Dr. Stella said, “to cooperate to get the project done, and to get it done with minimal impact.” Collaboration, determination and diligence are what’s needed to ensure a successful educational experience for the students.
Dr. Stella expects all classrooms to be ready for the opening of school, however, some construction activity will continue after the start of school. In particular, the window walls in the first-grade wing still need to be replaced. The work will be done predominantly during the weekend of September 6 and 7, and at night, and yet some first grade classrooms may be moved for a day or two to allow the work to go forward, one classroom at a time.
The students will be taught in the library during those days, he said. Other than that, the students will have full use of the school, including the hallways and the outdoor spaces. Bus drop-off procedures will be the same as always.
The ever-popular ice cream social will be on for Monday, September 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and back-to-school open house events are scheduled for September 4 (grades 5/6); September 9 (grades 3 and 4 and Multi Age Group); and September 16 for Kindergarten and grades 1 and 2.
He said construction of a “sally port” — an entry area that requires those accessing the school to be buzzed in twice, is planned for this fall, but he wasn’t ready to elaborate. The sally port and additional cameras are part of the security updates as part of the project. “A lot has been done and a lot more needs to be done,” Dr. Stella said. “I appreciate everybody’s flexibility and resiliency.”
The work done this summer includes:
- Lighting upgrades,
- New pumps and piping in the boiler room,
- New mill work (cabinets and counter tops) in the A-, B- and C-Wing (the oldest part of the school),
- Substantial work on the A wing roof,
- Computerized controls for new fan coil units in the S wing (near the Rotunda). These controls allow remote temperature controls. During snow days, for instance the temperature can be lowered while there are no occupants in the school, and increased before students arrive.
- Asbestos remediation from the panels below the windows in first-grade wing, and
- All toilets throughout the building have been replaced.
He said the health inspector visited the school August 21 for air testing, and the fire marshal has been keeping track of the work. Conditions will be safe for the opening of school.
A coat of paint will make the classrooms look fresh and new, however a lot of the work done cannot be seen, Dr. Stella said. “We are not building the Taj Mahal. We are creating a more comfortable environment.”
As it goes with construction updates, they may require some flexibility before the work’s resulting upgrades can be enjoyed. The targeted completion date is December 2015.
Summer programs went on without a hitch. Dr. Stella said the school community already displayed the kind of flexibility he was hoping to see during the summer months, when Beecher programs were moved to other facilities in town. The bulk of activities, in particular Summer Enrichment and Extended Day programs, were moved to Amity High School. A literacy clinic with the focus on science literacy, made good use of the pond in front of the high school. “We could have closed up,” Dr. Stella said, but in the interest of the children and families of this community, programming went on as in any other year.
One incoming kindergarten student happily pronounced that “this was the best day of his life,” Dr. Stella reported, and another student said “this feels like college”.
“Everyone had to work together as a team,” Dr. Stella said. The cooperation helped build a bridge with the neighboring educational institutions, especially Amity and Ezra Academy. “It took a lot of work,” to make the programs work, he said, particularly for the teachers running the programs in unfamiliar surroundings.
The drama teacher’s family members, for instance, helped create the scenery for the classroom. The teachers who organized “Cup Cake Wars,” baked the cupcakes in their homes. Thanks to these efforts and others, learning for Beecher students didn’t stop during the summer.
The influx of young families into this community seems to continue, with Beecher Road School maintaining six kindergarten classes for the 2014-15 school year. The enrollment as of August 22 was 788 students, Superintendent Dr. Guy Stella said, up from last year’s 770. He cautioned however, that changes were still possible. The official census reported to the state will be taken on October 1.
Every grade level, with the exception of fourth grade, now has six classrooms. In addition, all classrooms fall within the Board of Education recommended class size of 19 students in grades kindergarten to third grade and 21 for grades four and up. “We are looking forward to the year with hope and enthusiasm,” said Dr. Stella, following a two-day session with his administrative team.
In spite of spending a lot of time on the physical plant this summer, work continued on new educational initiatives, Dr. Stella said. Maureen Krawek and Jean Molot, the schools math specialists, introduced a group of teachers to the new math curriculum. New support materials, “Investigation,” will be used. The approach of the new curriculum is to help students become problem solvers, without losing sight of basic math facts, he said. The program emphasizes differentiation of instruction in the classroom, including for advanced and excelling students.
The school will be working on a self-study of its math program this year in anticipation of a Tri-State Consortium visit in late May 2015. The visit is of 12 to 15 educators who “come in as thought partners,” Stella said. They will visit the school for three days and “help us determine where we are and where we want to go,” in terms of math instruction. The new materials are aligned with the middle school math curriculum, he said.
Boy Scout Troop 63, meetings Monday nights from 7:00 pm – 8:30pm, Our Lady of the Assumption "Mother" Church, 1700 Litchfield Turnpike (Rte. 69), Woodbridge; September- April and May-June outdoors at Camp Whiting, all boys ages 10 and up or who have completed the fifth grade are welcome to stop by and see what we're all about. For more information, visit http://www.troop963.org or email Troop63CT@gmail.com.
Woodbridge Republican Town Committee Meetings, second Tuesday of each month, 7:30pm, Center Cafeteria. Visitors welcome and urge you to join us. For information, go to www.woodbridgegop.org.
Spring Entrepreneur Series, Every Thursday, 5:30-8:00pm (PDT), New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm Street, New Haven, View Map, sponsored by SCORE New Haven (http://newhaven.score.org/) and the New Haven Free Public Library to help participants establish a business plan, understand basic financial statements, learn how to build a recognizable brand, and manage technology effectively. Participants will receive a certificate of attendance upon successful completion of the series.
Alzheimer's Community Caregivers Support Group, 2nd Thursday of the month, 5:00pm, Arden House, Conference Room, 850 Mix Avenue, Hamden. Call Maria Paduano, Program Director to RSVP or for more information at 203-281-3500, ext. 7669; www.genesishcc.com.
Woodbridge Rotary Club Meetings, 1st and 3rd Friday of the month, 7:30am breakfast meeting, Country Corner Diner, 756 Amity Toad, Bethany and the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month, 12:15pm luncheon meeting, Carmine Tuscan Grill, 1500 Whalley Avenue, New Haven. Anyone interested in learning more about Rotary should contact Anna Dickerson at 203-710-0223 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual Fund Drive for Bethany's Clark Memorial Library, contributions requested to help for the cost of a website to update services, etc.
Trap Falls Kennel Club Obedience Classes, every level, AKC STAR Puppy (obedience for dogs under 12 months) and Family Manners Classes/Obedience & Canine Good Citizen; Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Pawz for Wellness in Shelton, CT. For registration and/or information, call 203-450-9485 or email email@example.com. Trap Falls Kennel Club is a non-profit member club of the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Amity Parent Support Group, meets every other Friday morning, 7:45am, Woodbridge Senior Center Lounge, 4 Meetinghouse Lane, sponsored by Amity High School, Woodbridge Youth Services and the Orange Drug and Alcohol Action Committee, local parents who struggle with children who are, or may be involved with, substance abuse share experiences and concerns in a confidential setting, For more information, please contact Nancy Pfund at 203-389-3429, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Haven’s Newest Improv Group, Tiny Dictator, a night of high-energy comedy, Friday, August 8, 2014, Doors open at 7pm, show at 8pm, Inspired Turkey, 82 Crown Street, New Haven. Turkey meals with side dishes served starting at $5. Admission/$10, BYOB with a $5 corking fee, Reduced-rate parking validation available at Chatterton Lot on the corner of George & Orange streets.
First Church of Christ Presents the Bob Kolb Jazz Trio “Jazz at the Movies, Saturday, September 13, 2014, 5:00pm, 5 Meetinghouse Lane, Woodbridge, popular movie music by Cole Porter, Henry Mancini, Irving Berlin, and others, $5. Following the concert there will be a free-will offering spaghetti dinner at Parish House. Dinner reservations required 203-389-2119 or email@example.com.
The International Order of Rainbow for Girls Seeking Members, Masonic based leadership and service group, looking for girls ages 9 - 15, to participate in community service activities, prospective member open houses on: September 15, October 6, and October 20, 2014, activities begin 7:00pm, Hamden Masonic Lodge, 3732 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, refreshments will be served. For additional information, contact CTIORG.org.
The Bridgeport Art League Of Huntington Opening Reception, Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:30am, St. Paul’s Episcopal Parish Center, 25 Church Street, Huntington, coffee and cake, meet the artists who teach our classes in watercolor, oil, drawing, decorative painting and porcelain. All are welcome – this is a Free event. Visit our website- bridgeportartleague.org.
The Amity And Woodbridge Historical Society Tag Sale, Saturday, September 20, 2014, 8:00am-2:00pm, on the grounds of the historic Thomas Darling House, 1907 Litchfield Turnpike, Woodbridge on from. Come and find a treasure, or reserve a space to sell your stuff. firstname.lastname@example.org. Free coffee!
PetsAffair '14, An Event to Support Rescue & Placement of Racing Greyhounds, Saturday, September 27, 2014 (rain date: September 28, 2014), 10:00am–4:00pm, 105 Fairwood Road, Bethany, Silent Auction open 10:00am-3:00pm and the list is growing daily.