The beginning of the school year symbolizes promise and new beginnings. It is an exciting time for our children who return to school with enthusiasm and anticipation for the learning and challenges that lie ahead. It is a reminder, too, of our shared commitment to education and support for our outstanding schools.
As First Selectman I have focused on educational excellence – at both the Woodbridge and Amity School Districts – as our most important investment. Of course, the investment is first and foremost for the sake of our children, but it also is a driver of economic development and the prosperity of our Town. I am frequently reminded by school administrators, realtors and new residents how important our schools are to young families who choose to raise their children here.
The most visible example at this time of our support for education is, of course, the Beecher Road School renovation project. This month students, teachers and staff will return to a school that is safer, more energy efficient and more beautiful (and equipped with new air conditioning!). Additionally, the school community, including parents, will enjoy the newly paved driveway, sidewalks and parking area at the Beecher South area.
This $13.4 million renovation project and the $500,000 paving project are the result of the strong working relationship that I have made a priority between the Town and its key partners: Beecher Road School’s administration and Board of Education, and the volunteer Beecher Road School Building Committee, as well as our important collaboration with the State Department of Education and our State Senators Crisco and Slossberg and Representative Klarides.
Other Town partners stepped up to the plate to help as well. We are grateful to Amity Regional High School and our neighbors Ezra Academy and Our Lady of Assumption Church for providing classroom space for the Beecher summer programs during the school renovation project.
Turning our attention to Amity, two recent graduates are making national news! One of the two first-ever women to pass the grueling Army Ranger test is an Amity Regional High School graduate. And an Amity graduate just signed a contract to play major league baseball with the New York Mets. Please join me in congratulating Army Capt. Kristen Griest, of Orange, and Woodbridge resident Vinny Siena for these major accomplishments! They join so many of our graduates who go on to extraordinary careers.
Our schools, staff and students frequently win well-deserved awards and accolades. Our students score well above average on standardized tests, and our staff are recognized for providing exemplary service. Beecher Road School students are among the top achievers in the state, with the vast majority scoring “goal” and “advanced” on state tests. This spring Amity Middle School-Bethany was ranked as the 11th best middle school in Connecticut. Recently, Amity Regional High School teachers were ranked number 9 out of 100 Connecticut high schools. And, of course, Amity has been named a Blue Ribbon School, a national distinction of excellence.
While this is just a small snapshot of the top-notch teaching, learning and extra-curricular activities going on in our schools, it underscores the impact of our investment in education. And this is another example of all that we have to be grateful for and positive about in our small town.