The school bus doors will open Tuesday, and there will be a number of expressions on the faces of those who walk up the steps.
No matter the feelings, though, Whitehall Central School will be ready to welcome them.
There will be a number of new programs and equipment at the elementary and junior/senior high school for the 2009-10 season.
“We want to continue to increase attendance and increase the graduation rate here,” said junior/senior high school Principal Kelly McHugh. “We hope to have more involvement and meetings with parents for those students who are having problems and continue to work on as each year progresses, seeing the graduation increase and the behavior incidents decrease.”
“Our expectations could not be any higher,” said elementary school Principal David St. Germain. “We want to make sure that we maintain the high quality that we have been proud of for years.”
One thing that will be new to classrooms in both buildings is the addition of several new SMART Boards (interactive white boards) to complement the ones that were already in place.
“We have several new SMART Boards in a number of rooms,” said McHugh. “The teachers are excited about using them with their classes.”
“Thanks to the stimulus funding, we were able to get a number of new SMART Boards that really capture the attention of the students,” said St. Germain.
For the middle school students, McHugh said, bringing the teachers together as a team for those students has been the focus of the summer months.
“We have incorporated middle school collaborative team meetings on a daily basis,” said McHugh. “The teachers have trained this summer in the team philosophy and the training went incredibly well.”
McHugh said the new team approach in the middle school will be beneficial to both the students and the faculty.
“Teachers will benefit as well as the students,” she said. “This will allow the teachers to get together and they will be able to find out if there are students that may be struggling in one area or if they are struggling throughout and may need some help. We can also be proactive in our discipline if the teachers spot problems together.”
McHugh said the program should help with the school’s overall goal.
“According to all of the information that I have read, this will increase the graduation rate,” said McHugh. “My goal is to increase that every year. Every year we will get better at it and every year we will look to get into a new habit.”
In high school, McHugh said, the school has added an Advanced Placement English class for students.
“This is an elective for upperclassmen and a chance for them to take another class that gives them another opportunity for more college credit,” said McHugh. “We have also had several personnel changes between the middle and high school and we also have several teachers who retired but will be here on a part-time basis, and we are looking forward to using their expertise with the new teachers.”
The middle and high school will also be the home to a new position at the school.
“We will have a social worker at the school now,” said McHugh. “We are looking forward to this since we have never had one as part of the school staff before.”
In the elementary school, St. Germain said, the faculty is continuing to work in a new math program.
“We are continuing to phase in the new math program and we are tweaking our assessment system in the ELA as a means of getting better,” said St. Germain.
McHugh said that she is looking forward to continuing to watch the progress of the new senior class of 2010.
“This class and I started together at the high school,” said McHugh. “This is an excellent group, and I have seen them grow and mature throughout high school. I have very high expectations for them.”