Although the first day of school in Ridgefield was a rainy one, students, parents, teachers and staff looked on the coming year with bright eyes.
Because of last week's tropical storm and the ensuing widespread power outages across town, students finally donned their backpacks on Sept. 6 rather than the planned Aug. 31.
And as students waited under umbrellas and parents donned brightly colored ponchos, conversation thrived around the excitement of gym class, recess and math class. The Callaghan family chatted with friends as big yellow school buses rumbled by.
“I’m almost done with Veteran’s Park,” fourth-grader, George Callaghan said. “I'll go to East Ridge Middle School right after fifth grade.”
George is only beginning fourth grade this year, but is already excited about his upcoming years in Middle School. George and his younger brother, Kevin, a second-grader, played in puddles as they sported big smiles of anticipation.
“I like science class because I learn new things about leaves,” Kevin explained to the group.
“I like math class,” George said. “I also like gym and recess because we can just play.”
As the Callaghan brothers boarded their school bus, Principal Anna O’Rourke of Saint Mary’s School was handing out pencils to students not far from the Callaghan’s bus stop.
“K-8 starts today,” she said. “The pre-school students will start tomorrow.”
O’Rourke is looking forward to having the school year started and wants the students of Saint Mary’s school to enjoy the gift of learning, she said. She is also hoping to have all of her students to feel like they are part of a community at Saint Mary’s School.
“We have so many new faces this year,” she said.
O’Rourke and the Saint Mary’s students began the day with an assembly. She gave them the advice that she would like them to carry not only throughout the school year, but throughout their lives.
“I told them to work hard, be kind, smile and pass it on,” O’Rourke said.
Emeline Allehaut, a fourth grader in Karen Fahey’s class felt at ease with her new peers and new school. As she listened to her teacher welcome the class, she sipped on some water and shared a morning snack with her new friends.
“I’m excited about making new friends,” she said. “I came from Veterans Park and my favorite subjects are math and art.”
Emeline’s classmate, Charlie Stuhr was also excited about being in a new class this year. He reminisced about his favorite third-grade memories.
“My favorite part of third grade was the state project,” he said.
Eight-year-old Charlie couldn’t wait to see what projects and assignment are in his future. Julia Abbruzzese sat a few chairs down from Charlie and she chatted with her friends about her excitement regarding potential learning experiences outside of the classroom.
“I am excited about the field trips,” she said. “We might go to the Bronx Zoo this year.”
Down the hall, younger students in Jody Lampasso’s first-grade class munched on their own morning snacks and paired up with desk partners. James Taylor and his buddy, Owen McNicholas discussed their love of leggos as several of their quite classmates worked through their beginning of the year jitters.
“We like to build leggos,” James said.
“Last year I learned French,” Owen remarked.
Lampasso helped the students feel at ease, helping some open snacks and encouraging the shyness out of others.
“I’m always excited about teaching them to read,” she said as she made her way around the classroom. “They grow so much—you can go so many places with books. [Reading] usually ends up being their favorite thing to do.”
Minutes away at Scotland Elementary School, school nurse Birdie Rappoccio tidied her office.
“I’m looking forward to a happy and healthy school year,” Rappoccio said. “This morning was great—it was a great start to the year despite last week’s hurricane."
Like Saint Mary’s School, Scotland Elementary School has seen some new students shuffling through the hallways, according to Rappoccio.
“It’s nice to see some new faces,” she said. “Scotland school is a wonderful place to work—I’ve been here for 26-years and we just have a wonderful staff and great teachers here.”
Next Door, Elizabeth Hansen, SES’s Speech and Language Pathologist, was looking through some files on her computer. She was preparing for an organized start of the year.
“I’m excited to see students make leaps and bounds in the area of speech and language development,” she said.”
Hansen is also excited to be collaborating with the general education teachers in order to promote academic success. She had an interest in education prior to working at Scotland Elementary School and when she began her work there, she felt she could help special needs students strive in the area of speech and language.
Across the hall, librarian Melinda Violante tested out some new computer technology.
“This year in the library we're looking forward to a new circulation system,” she said. “The students and volunteers will have to learn it.”
The same new circulation system will be used across all of Ridgefield’s public schools, according to Violante.
“It’s an exciting time for everyone at all schools in Ridgefield,” Violante said. “Everyone is experiencing new beginnings.”
As students, teachers and staff were hard at work, parents finally had a moment to relax and meet up with fellow parents at coffee shops in town.
Students can look forward to a year full of learning and teachers can look forward to seeing their students soak in their lessons.