Newtown Bee's Back-To-School 2023

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2 - Back To School 2023 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023
    For Info Call 203.426.5757 or email Build confidence, accomplish set goals, socialize, increase coordination to aid in sports, and enjoy a fun way to work out all in a nurturing, non-competitive atmosphere. Join us in celebrating… 72 YEARS All ages and abilities welcomed! Special classes and reduced tuition rates for ages 2, 3 & 4 Enroll in our Nine Month Program which ends with the annual Stardust Revue or try us out in a 4 week special class. Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Combo, Hip Hop, Contemporary-Modern, Parent & Me, Jazz Funk, Fitness, & More! Celebrating 72 years of dance, joy, smiles, friendships, and generations of families. Classes begin Sept 8 • Classes End May 25 Please call or email the studio to discuss class days and times - registration accepted year round!

Submit First Day Of School Photos

Parents of Newtown Public School students are once again invited to submit photos of their children prepping for and attending the first day of the school year, set for Wednesday, August 30.

The deadline to submit pictures for the September 8 print edition of the paper is Tuesday, September 5, at 8 am. Photos should be submitted by e-mail to noelle@ with the first and last names of those pictured included, along with their grade level, school they attend, and the name of the person who took the photo.

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Shop Local for back to school

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Back To School 2023 - 3 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023
Superintendent’s Back To School FAQs.........................................4 Parents, Students And Drivers All Have A Role In School Bus Safety ...................................................8 Hawley School Ready For New School Year, Including HVAC...........10 Education Companies Cashing In On Post-Pandemic Learning Loss .............................................................12 Connecticut Expanding Farm To School Program, Connections To Fresh Locally-Grown Food ..............................................................14 Library Makerspace Open To Students, Teachers, Anyone With A Creative Vision ...........................................................16 Student Eligibility For Free School Meals Increased Last Year .......................................................21 Newtown Public Schools 2023-2024 Calendar ...................................25 Directory of Advertisers .......................................................................26

The Superintendent’s Back To School FAQs

How do I register for school? Families may start the registration process on our website at newtown.k12. Any child who turns 5 on or before January 1 is eligible to enroll in kindergarten for the next school year. If you have any questions, contact your school directly or call Sarah Connell in the central office at 203-426-7606.

Are school lunches free this year? Unfortunately, State and Federal funding for the free lunch program ended at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. School lunches will need to be purchased through our My School Bucks program. If you have any questions, please contact the Director of Food Services, John Morris at 203-426-7637. For lunch menus and additional information including nutrition, visit

Who can get free or reduced-price meals? As we welcome students back for the 2023-24 school year, we want to remind you about the benefit of school meals, which continue to be some of the healthiest meal options for students. Thanks to nationwide waivers for federally funded meal programs, school meals were free to all students through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and last school year.

At this time, these waivers have expired, and schools must return to charging for breakfast and lunch. Free or reduced-priced meals are only available to students who qualify for these benefits, but all students, regardless of family situations, are encouraged to dine in the cafeteria together.

Our goal is to continue supporting all students and families by ensuring those who need free meals at school continue to receive them — especially while understanding that the pandemic has created new hardships for many families, including those who have never previously relied on school meals. We also understand that many households have not submitted a meal application in a few years.

We encourage all families, regardless of income, to complete and submit a short, confidential school meal application prior to the start of the school year to ensure that there are no gaps in meal benefits for students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Parents or guardians can access this application on the website and submit it to Jacki Kulikowski kulikowskij@newtown.k12. or at 12 Berkshire Rd, Sandy Hook, CT 06482. It’s an easy and confidential way to ensure your child stays well-nourished at school.

The next best place

For families with multiple students in the district, only one household application is needed. If qualified, meal benefits will apply for the entire school year. Should your household’s financial circumstances change at any time, please be aware that applications can also be submitted throughout the year. For families receiving other benefits, such as SNAP or TANF, you may receive notification that your student(s) is/are automatically eligible for free meals and do not need to submit an application

If you have questions or need more information, please contact Jacki Kulikowski at 203-426-7637 or kulikowskij@newtown.k12.ct us.

Where do I find bus route information? Businformation was posted to our district website the week of August 14, and sent to households in the Superintendent’s Welcome Back Newsletter.

All-Star Transportation, in conjunction with the New-

town Board of Education, is working to ensure a smooth transition for the 2023-2024 school year.

The All-Star staff is prepared to answer any and all concerns at 203-305-9779, its main line. To ensure callers don’t research the messaging system, phone inquiries should be made between 7 am and 4:30 pm. Inquiries can also be submitted by email at alan.colangelo@

How will I know about school closings or delays? In the event school is canceled, delayed, or closing early due to inclement weather or other reasons, the Superintendent will send a message to parents via Blackboard. The announcement will also be posted on the district website,;, and

Delays and closings will also be aired on radio stations WEBE — 107.9 FM, WINE — Brookfield 940 AM, WLAD — Danbury 800 AM, and WICC — Bridgeport 600 AM.

TV stations included are NBC channel 30, WFSB channel 3, and WTNH channel 8.

Will my child need a physical before the start of the school year? Physical examinations are required before entry into preschool, kindergarten, prior to school enrollment (when a new student is entering from outside Connecticut,) and in grades six and nine. A physical examination done within one year is acceptable.

Newtown Schools require that all students comply with State of Connecticut immunization requirements before entry into school.

Can I visit my child in school? We encourage parent involvement and parent participation in our schools and invite parents and community members to visit the schools at any time. However, because schools are a place of work and learning, we must set certain limits to balance the interest between the visitors’ participation and the school’s mission to educate its students. To assist in this balancing, we will implement the following practice regarding visitors to our schools:

*We consider anyone who is not a regular staff member or student of the school a “visitor.”

*All visitors must report to the school office upon arrival at the school.

*All visitors must wear a school badge identifying them as a visitor.

*All visitors who wish to observe a classroom during school hours must coordinate the visit with the principal and the teacher to minimize class disruption.

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Get Your Student Prepped For College Entrance Exams

(StatePoint) Is the SAT or ACT on the horizon for your high schooler? A lot of emphasis is placed on college entrance exams, and your child may be anxious about their scores. To adequately prepare for the SAT or ACT, consider these tips:

Practice, practice, practice: Encourage your student to take free online practice tests early and often. Not only is this an effective way to get familiar with the types of questions that will be on the test, it can give your child a sense of where they stand currently and help them identify areas where they may need some extra review. It’s helpful to simulate test day as much as possible. Have them take the practice test in a quiet place and time each portion of the test accurately.

Have the right STEM tools: Acing the math portion is easier when you fully understand the principles behind the test questions. Fortunately, you can affordably equip your student with tools that facilitate that understanding. Casio, dedicated to making STEM education more engaging, has developed the fx-CG50, a graphing calculator in the brand’s PRIZM line-up that offers a color LCD with a full textbookstyle display. Jam-packed with features that enable students to solve the most challenging equations, it offers the ability to easily draw three dimensional graphs such as planes, cylinders and spheres, and view them from various angles in order to better analyze their shape. Plus, a cross-section option and special zoom function can be used for greater analysis.

Build vocabulary: An expansive vocabulary is not just useful in the real world, it can greatly improve a student’s chances of success in the English, reading and writing sections of the

We offer programs for ALL ages and programs such as:

exam. Getting familiar with some of the more frequently used words on the test is important. However, it’s best to break up the studying into chunks. Select a few words to master each day with flash cards. Hopefully, students will start to see etymological patterns that will help them make educated guesses when they don’t know a word.

Take a break: It’s tempting to assume a last-minute study session the evening before the exam is going to make or break their performance, but a mental breather is actually a better use of time. Urge your child to get a good night’s sleep not just the night before the test, but that entire week. Pre-test jitters may lead to insomnia, but having a solid foundation of rest will help ensure your student is alert on test day. The morning of the test, encourage them to eat a healthy, filling breakfast and do activities that will warm up their brain, such as reading a book or solving a crossword puzzle. Sufficient preparation and great study tools can alleviate college entrance exam anxieties so that your student walks into their testing center with confidence.

Our focus is to provide a safe and fun environment for children in grades K-6. Children can join us for one day or for five days!

We providetransportation from kids in the Newtown School District right to the Community Center!

Back To School 2023 - 5 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023 JOIN OUR FAMILY! Preschool 2, 3, 4 and 5-year-old programs, Kindergarten through Grade 8 Come take a walk in our halls. A warm welcome awaits you! Contact for information and tours 203-426-5102 • Stellar Academics/ Dedicated Faculty • Family & Faith Focused Environment • Empowering Enrichment Programs • Active Athletics Program • Highly Successful Alumni • State of the Art Technology and Security System • Motivational Buddy Program • Full-time Nurse and Security Officer • Impressive National Test Scores 40 Church Hill Road, Newtown, CT | WHERE STUDENTS BLOOM In Mind, Heart & Soul
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6 - Back To School 2023 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023

Water Contaminants Can Impact Child HealthHere’s How to Remove Them

(StatePoint) Clean, safe drinking water is essential for human health, especially for children, who are particularly vulnerable to certain contaminants. Local, state and federal policy has had some success in helping clean up drinking water supplies, but there are new reports of emerging contaminants linked to child development.

Here’s what to know about some of the most common water contaminants linked to child health, along with information about how to filter them:

PFAS: According to Environmental Working Group scientists, the presence of Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in American drinking water is much wider spread than previously thought. Contamination of drinking water or ground water has been detected at almost 1,400 sites in 49 states. This large class of chemicals -- which includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) -- is added to a range of products and packaging. They are collectively referred to as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down easily and can last thousands of years. They can also build up in the human body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the blood of nearly all Americans is contaminated with PFAS. A new medical research study recently reported PFAS is altering hormonal and metabolic pathways needed for child growth and development.

Lead: The effects of lead contamination in water have become more well known since the crisis in Flint, Mich. became widely reported on in 2016. However, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are between 6 to 10 million lead service

lines still use in the country. When pipes that contain lead corrode, lead can enter drinking water. Harmful to everyone, even minimal exposure can have a significant impact on children, and has been linked to nervous system damage, impaired hearing, learning disabilities and impaired blood cell function..

*Microplastics: Microplastics are fragments of plastic pollution, which are harmful to water ecosystems and unhealthy to consume. Microplastics are found in both tap and bottled water and in a 2022 study, were noted to be found in human blood. While the health effects of microplastics are still largely unknown, they are emerging as a common drinking water contaminant to be aware of.

Some Solutions

To learn about the contaminants found in your drinking water, you can access the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database. No matter what you learn, it’s a good idea to filter your water.

Many home water filters only filter certain contaminants. It’s important to look for a water filter that removes chemicals including PFAS, heavy metals including lead, and that provides broader protection against emerging contaminants such as microplastics. One option is the pitcher filters and dispenser filters offered by LifeStraw, which remove not only lead, PFAS and microplastics, but also bacteria, parasites and a variety of emerging contaminants, including pharmaceuticals.

When it comes to child health, PFAS and lead contamination in drinking water is a concerning problem at the local and national level. Fortunately, household solutions exist to make water safer for individuals and families.


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Parents, Students And Drivers All Have A Role In School Bus Safety


School buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road. They are, according to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the safest way for children to travel to and from school.

Less than one percent of all traffic fatalities involve children on school transportation vehicles, also according to NHTSA.

It’s the human factor that creates the biggest risk for children. They are most at risk when approaching or leaving a school bus. Over the last decade, nearly two-thirds of school-age pedestrians who were fatally injured in schooltransportation-related crashes were struck by school buses or other vehicles when they were boarding or leaving a school bus.

The vehicles themselves are the most regulated vehicles on the road. They are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries. In every state, stop-arm laws — statutes that say buses cannot be passed when buses have stopped and the stop sign on the driver’s side of the bus has swung open on its arm — protect children from other motorists.

Newtown resident and traffic safety scientist Dr Neil Chaudhary is the CEO of Preusseur Research Group, top

researchers in the field of traffic safety. Chaudhary says children are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus instead of riding in a private vehicle. For that reason, it’s important for drivers, parents, and students to understand school

bus safety. Newtown is one of 18 school transportation locations covered by All-Star Transportation.

In addition to each local public school and St Rose School, All-Star provides shuttle rides to Newtown Middle School for those who

live in town and attend Henry Abbott Technical School in Danbury and Shepaug High School in Washington; and to Reed Intermediate School and the Exit 9 commuter lot for those who attend Danbury Magnet School.

The company also does an in-town route for residents

who attend Housatonic Valley Waldorf and Fraser Woods schools.

Alan Colangelo, manager of the Newtown Terminal for All-Star, says approximately 4,300 students are currently transported to and from school in this town.

Bus Stop & Ride Conduct Expectations

According to All-Star Transportation, the school bus is an extension of the classroom. Students are expected to maintain behavior acceptable in a classroom setting.

Students should be at their bus stop in the morning about 10 minutes before their bus is scheduled to arrive.

Students should not be inside or near their house, or at the opposite end of their driveway when their bus arrives. They should be fully dressed — including coats — and ready to board a bus immediately.

Chaudhary also suggests brightly colored clothing when pickup and drop-off occur at dusk or dawn.

Students should never cross in front of a bus without a visible signal from the driver that it is safe to do so.

Likewise, no student should ever run towards/from the rear or alongside a bus. There is a danger zone around a bus where a driver may not see the student in a mirror. If a student drops something, they should never run up to

We believe we can guide our children toward a better future by getting back to the basics of healthy living. Our dedicated team at Newtown Center Pediatrics is committed to serving all of our childrens’ healthcare needs from birth

8 - Back To School 2023 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023
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Children walk past a bus arriving at Sandy Hook School on the first day of the 2022-23 academic year. Parents, students and drivers are all responsible for safety on and around school buses. —Bee file photo

the side of the bus to retrieve it. Instead, students or parents should yell to get the driver’s attention if they need the bus to remain stopped for any reason.

Colangelo says one of the most important things students of all ages should remember is that as a bus is approaching their stop, “you’ve also got other cars” nearby.

Students “need to stand back about five or six feet from the road, and stand still, just to be safe.

“Don’t be playing, and don’t throw objects that could inadvertently cause an accident for a driver,” he added.

All-Star offers the following list of Bus Stop & Conduct Expectations:

*Demonstrate respectful conduct as in the classroom.

*Be courteous and kind. Do not use profanity.

*Refrain from eating or drinking on the bus.

*Keep the bus clean.

*Cooperate with the driver.

*Do not smoke (this includes electronic cigarettes/vaping).

*Be respectful of equipment and the belongings of others.

*Remain seated until the bus is stopped completely at school and the bus stop.

*Keep head, hands, and feet inside bus.

*Remember, the bus driver is authorized to assign seats.

For Parents

Parents are asked to go over behavior expectations prior to each school year, which will promote a safe, hassle-free ride for all.

Parents often have questions for or comments to share with school bus drivers.

Colangelo says this is common, but parents need to be quick and courteous.

“Parents can talk to our drivers, and we have drivers who do the same thing,” he said. “Understand that they’re on a schedule, though. Feel free to ask questions, but keep things brief.

“You don’t want to hold up the bus for anyone else any more than you would want that to happen with your children,” he added.

If parents have concerns about conduct on a bus, “they’re probably better off giving the school administration or us a call. If we can’t help them, we’ll direct them to someone who can.”

For Drivers

As mentioned earlier, it is against the law to pass a stopped school bus. Every state has a law making it illegal to pass a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended to load or unload students.

This includes buses on the opposite side of the road.

The fine for passing a school bus is $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 and possible jail time for subsequent offenses, according to Chaudhary.

The law also requires drivers stop at least ten feet away from a bus, and remain stopped until the bus’s stop lights stop flashing.

One study of about 80,000 school bus drivers reported over 50,000 passings in a single day, Chaudhary told The Newtown Bee “You must stop even if the bus is on the other side of the road unless there is a divided

highway,” or a barrier between lane directions, he said.

“I’ve seen several passings of stopped buses on Glover Avenue,” he continued.

An illegal school bus passing can be a deadly event, he cautioned.

“Young kids in particular are prone to be excited when they get home, and dart across the road,” Chaudhary said. “Parents should repeatedly remind their kids about how to cross safely at the bus.”

The bright-color clothing suggested earlier makes students more visible to drivers, he said.

Early arrival to the bus stop each morning can also allevi -

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ate the need for children to dart across any road, he added.

Distracted driving is also a concern for Chaudhary and others concerned with safety.

In 2019 he worked with his employer, CT DOT’s Highways Safety Office, and the police departments and superintendents of schools in Newtown, Bethel and Monroe to enforce distracted driving during times when school pickup and drop-offs were occurring.

The team “reduced distracted driving during these times,” he said. The arrival of COVID-19 interrupted plans to expand the effort to as many as 20 towns in the

state, and then further examine the impact of enforcement.

“Passing stopped buses should not need to be enforced,” Chaudhary said. “You’d think drivers have some semblance of responsibility and respect for the lives of other people’s children but they don’t.”

The CT DOT also encourages drivers to be careful when driving on neighborhood streets and around school zones. Always expect the unexpected.

The state agency also urges drivers to be alert for students walking to and from their bus stop (or school) when leaving driveways.

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The NHTSA reminds drivers that stop signs that extend from the side of a school bus mean the same thing as a stop sign installed on a road: Come to a full stop. It is the law in every state that drivers must stop completely when those signs are open and a school bus’s red lights are flashing. —National Highway Traffic Safety Administration graphic

Hawley School Ready For New School Year, Including HVAC

When Hawley School students make their return to the school after a year away, sources tell The Newtown Bee the temporarily relocated students will notice little difference to how they left it.

The students, teachers, and staff spent the 2022-23 school year at Reed Intermediate School and Sandy Hook Elementary School. On August 30, they’ll be returning to where they should be.

The school is nearly finished with a year-long heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) project, with an expected completion date of August 15. Facilities Director John Barlow said that the school will be in a condition ready for teachers to come back to start setting up their classrooms on August 10.

“Things will be back to school as usual,” said Barlow. “The only difference is now the entire building will have air conditioning and better ventilation.”

In spite of some problems with the delays of a switchgear, which threatened to cost the town $50,000 and would have caused the school to open without air conditioning in certain sections of the building, things are back on schedule. A switchgear is part of an electrical system that includes fuses and circuit breakers and allows regulation of the power system. Barlow said that the contractors were on the verge of doing a “backfeed,” which would have allowed them to test different parts of the new HVAC system without the switchgear, when the switchgear “just showed up” weeks before the town was told it would arrive.

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said the town “got lucky” that the switchgear arrived when it did.

“The goal is we should be majority complete at the middle of the month and ready for school start, barring any unforeseen occurrences,” said Rosenthal.

The town has known the switchgear would be delayed since last year, but things ended up coming down to the wire far more than town officials were comfortable with.

Rosenthal also noted that coming into the home stretch, there is still a roughly $300,000 surplus in the $8 million project budget approved by voters in 2021. The town used $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan money

to help cover the cost.

The project was planned with a large contingency due to the fact that Hawley School is an “older building” and there were concerns there may be an expensive abatement or something else costly that was not foreseen before work began. Now that the project is wrapping up, that money can be used towards adding alternates, such as replacing some cooling units in the ‘97 addition that were in the original HVAC project plans but were removed when bids came in higher than expected. The air conditioners in that section are nearing the end of their 25 to 30 year life expectancy.

“The money should go a long way towards replacing those cooling units,” said Rosenthal, who was quick to note that it’s still possible for something unforeseen to crop up and use some or all of that money. “If everything goes well, we’ll be in a good place.”

On Thursday, August 3, Eversource workers were at the school installing a transformer outside the school. Installation was finished and the building was successfully powered up, according to Rosenthal.

Barlow said he was “excited” to have the students back in the building.

“It will be nice to have everyone back in one building,” said Barlow. “It will be a more cohesive environment to learn in again with them all in one place.”

Improving the school’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems has been on the local project radar for at least 20 years, according to The Newtown Bee archives. Work started in summer of last year.

Hawley School was originally built in 1921, with additions in 1948 and 1997. The HVAC project is meant to improve ventilation and air-conditioning at the school, while adding air-conditioning to areas without.

10 - Back To School 2023 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023
Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at The entrance to Hawley School. —Bee Photo, Taylor Eversource workers installing a transformer outside of Hawley School, one of the last pieces of an HVAC project that will be wrapped up before the start of the 2023-24 school year. —Bee Photo, Taylor
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Education Companies Cashing In On Post-Pandemic Learning Loss

PHILIDELPHIA — For the nation’s schoolchildren, the data on pandemic learning loss is relentlessly bleak, with education researchers and economists warning that, unless dramatic action is taken, students will suffer a lifelong drop in income as a result of lagging achievement.

“This cohort of students is going to be punished throughout their lifetime,” noted Eric Hanushek, the Stanford economist who did the income study, in ProPublica’s recent examination of the struggle to make up for what students missed out on during the era of remote learning.

For the burgeoning education technology sector, however, the crisis has proven a glimmering business opportunity, as a visit to the industry’s annual convention revealed.

The federal government has committed $190 billion in pandemic recovery funds to school districts since 2020, and education technology sales people have been eagerly making the case that their products are just what students and teachers need to make up lost ground.

“We’re huge in learning loss,” said Dan DiDesiderio, a Pittsburgh-area account manager for Renaissance Learning, a top seller of educational software and assessments.

He was talking up his company’s offerings in the giant exposition hall of the Philadelphia Convention Center, where dozens of other vendors and thousands of educators gathered for three days late last month at the confab of the International Society for Technology in Education. For DiDesiderio, who was a school administrator before joining Renaissance, this meant explaining how schools have been rely-

ing on Renaissance products to help students get back on track.

“During COVID, we did see an increase across the board,” he said.

Renaissance is far from the only player in the ed tech industry that is benefiting from the surge in federal funding, and the industry enjoyed a huge wave of private funding as the federal tap opened: The annual total of venture capital investments in ed tech companies rose from $5.4 billion to $16.8 billion between 2019 and 2021 before tailing off.

The largest chunk of the federal largess, $122 billion that was included in the American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden in March 2021, requires that schools put at least 20% toward battling learning loss, and

companies are making the case that schools should spend the money on their products, in addition to intensive tutoring, extended-day programs and other remedies.

“The pandemic has created a once-ina-lifetime economic opportunity for early stage companies to reach an eager customer base,” declared Anne Lee Skates, a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, in a recent article. (Her firm has invested in ed tech companies.) The federal funds “are the largest one-time infusion of funds in education from the federal government with almost no strings attached.”

Five days before the convention, the National Center for Education Statistics had released the latest devastat-

ing numbers: The decline in math scores for 13-year-olds between the 2019-20 and 2022-23 school years was the largest on record, and for the lowest-performing students, reading scores were lower than they were the first time data was collected in 1971.

But the mood was festive in Philadelphia. The educators in attendance, whose conference costs are generally covered by their district’s professional development funds, were excited to try out the new wave of nifty gadgets made possible by the advances in artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

“For a lot of us, it’s like coming to Disneyland,” said one teacher from Alabama.

One could also detect the slightly urgent giddiness of a big bash in its final stages. Schools need to spend most of their recovery funds by 2024, and many have already allocated much of that money, meaning that this golden opportunity would soon close.

And summer is the main buying season, with the fiscal year starting July 1 and with educators wanting their new tools delivered in time for school to start in the fall.

Hanging over the proceedings was an undeniable irony: The extent of learning loss was closely correlated to the amount of time that students had spent doing remote learning, on a screen, rather than receiving direct instruction, and here companies were offering more screen-based instruction as the remedy.

Few of the companies on hand were proposing to replace the classroom experience entirely with virtual instruction, but to the degree that their offerings recalled the year-plus of Zoom school, it could be a bit awkward.

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“A lot of people don’t like us, because we can do remote-school stuff,” said Michael Linacre, a salesperson for StarBoard Solution, before demonstrating one of the cool things a StarBoard whiteboard could do: He jotted 1+2= with his finger and up popped 3. “There’s a mixed feeling about that now.”

Most of the vendors were not about to let that awkwardness get in their way, though, as they cajoled teachers to listen to their pitch, often with the lure of free swag.

“I love the shirt — I’m a huge ’N Sync fan,” said a library technology specialist from a New Jersey elementary school at the booth for BrainPOP, a group of educational animation websites whose display included a T-shirt that nodded to the 1990s boy band. The vendor praised the teacher for getting the reference — the union guys setting up the expo had totally missed it, he said — and told her that all one had to do to get one of the shirts was attend one of several pitch sessions during the day.

“Students who use BrainPOP two or more times a month show measurable gains toward grade-level proficiency,” asserted a large poster listing the various sessions.

Nearby, a Microsoft salesperson named Mike had a full audience sitting on white settees arrayed in his zone as he launched into his demonstration of the company’s new AI tools for helping kids learn to read aloud.

He showed how a program called Reading Coach captured video of a student reading a passage aloud and flagged mispronunciations, with an automated voice declaring, “These words were the most challenging for you.” There were even more features in the offing, Mike said; the program would soon produce comprehension questions to ask about whatever passage the teacher gave the students to read, and it would soon be able to gauge students’ level of expressiveness, too.

One might wonder what all this

would leave to the actual teacher, but Mike assured the audience that Reading Coach would simply allow educators to focus on other tasks. “It’s a time saver,” he said.

In fact, education technology is replacing teachers in another sense: A large share of the vendors on hand were themselves former educators who had left the classroom for jobs with tech companies, where they could still feel like they were involved in education, but without the stresses of the classroom and often with higher pay.

One former first grade teacher who had made this transition herself two years ago said she had seen the trend accelerate among her colleagues during the pandemic, when the challenges of juggling hybrid online and in-person instruction and managing students who were struggling with learning loss and delayed socialization had made jobs in ed tech seem especially alluring.

Remote learning “flipped the field on its head,” she said.

“We were getting a lot more responsibilities than before, a lot more hours, a lot more stress.” At the first of the two ed tech companies she has worked for, she said, “almost everyone was an exteacher hired the past couple years. Ed tech is a good space for teachers to go to: It’s a corporate job, but they respect the skills that teachers have.”

Knowing that the ed tech sector was not only seeking a large share of federal recovery funds for schools but also playing a role in the teacher shortage gave the proceedings an extra edge.

The profusion of inventively named vendors was overwhelming: Beanstack, Impero, Bluum, Archangel, Teq, Ozobot, Nuiteq, Vivacity, Figma. Kami and Hāpara sounded more like Ikea furniture, but no, they were here, too.

Among the rookie attendees wandering the hall was Joseph Tey, a Stanford computer science major. He was there with a classmate to ask teachers how they felt about the rise of AI. Were they worried about students cheating?

Were they going to incorporate AI into their instruction?

“Tech adoption in education is tough,” Tey said. “Do you adopt something only when the fire is under your ass? COVID was one fire. This is another fire.”

The COVID-19 fire had been great for one vendor, Wakelet, a website that allows users to pull together videos, images and text files into a single webpage, for use by individuals who want to to promote a resume or body of work or by teachers seeking to present information on a given subject. Its use by teachers had boomed during remote learning, said co-founder Rick Butterworth.

“The pandemic was really a benefit for us because we had so many users who came on board,” he said. “2020 was an interesting year for us.” The site has been free to use, with the company funded for several years by angel investors, he said, but it was now about to start offering tiered paid plans for schools, ranging up to $6,000 per year.

Among the features available to paying customers: “bespoke professional development.”

Across the aisle, a vendor named Whitney, a former elementary school librarian, was corralling passersby for her next pitch session for MackinMaker. “Have a seat! We’re about to have a demo. It’s really fun. Just fill out the card for the giveaway.” The giveaways were T-shirts that were waiting on each chair.

“It’s all about the giveaway,” said one teacher, with gentle sarcasm, as she took her seat.

Whitney gave her pitch for MackinMaker’s online e-book marketplace. After she was done, her colleague Ethan told the teachers, “If you need a different size T-shirt, let us know.”

Luring teachers into pitches was easiest at the various sellers of virtual reality headsets, some of which had long lines of educators waiting their turn. I tried a headset from ClassVR

that was playing virtual reality programs from Eduverse.

The first scene was a pastoral landscape of fields and stone walls whose context was unclear until the vendor explained that it was a scene from the Civil War. She clicked over to another of Eduverse’s 500-odd options, this one featuring men building railroads in the 19th century, where I accidentally got myself hit in the head, virtually, by a sledgehammer.

Schools could buy eight of the headsets for $4,299, or 30 for $16,999, the vendor said. Sales in recent years had been “amazing, in terms of rapid growth.”

The afternoon of the convention’s opening day was wearing on, and the conference tote bags were already getting overstuffed with all the free swag. Conveniently, Kahoot (an Oslo-based operation with the slogan “Make learning awesome”) was giving out tote bags as prizes for those who won in demonstrations of its AI-generated quiz games.

I participated in a game with questions about the Fourth of July and was frustrated to accidentally input the wrong answer on my smartphone in response to a question about the size of the U.S. population in 1776. (The correct answer was 2.5 million.)

The Kahoot vendor handed out the three tote bags to the victorious educators, who would have two more days of conventioneering to fill them up. “Did you learn something about Independence Day?” she said.

A few weeks later came a reminder that the stakes for the ed tech sector went far beyond tote bags and T-shirts: Kahoot announced that a group led by Goldman Sachs’ private equity division was buying it for $1.7 billion.

This story was originally published on July 24, 2023 by ProPublica. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive their biggest stories as soon as they’re published at newsletters/

Back To School 2023 - 13 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023

Connecticut Expanding Farm To School Program, Connections To Fresh Locally-Grown Food

When a farmer at Cold Spring Farm held up a garlic bulb and explained how to grow the plant, one of the 10-yearolds visiting the Colchester farm asked if they could eat it like an apple.

When the farmer showed them how to grow a potato, another kid shouted “I love McDonald’s!”

As the group of Middletown fourth grade students began to garden, one child screamed that he got dirt in his eye, while one of the girls showed off that the garlic plant she was inspecting was healthy. “It’s like a little baby,” she said excitedly.

The Farm to School program, a national and statewide initiative to bring locally produced foods into schools, aims to help students go beyond classroom lessons and learn about what they’re eating in the cafeteria through hands-on experience in school gardens and field trips to nearby farms. It also aims to develop stronger community relationships between local farmers, students and school administrations.

The program first launched in Connecticut in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2016 that partnerships, like the one between FoodCorps and UConn, began to further expand its reach.

By 2018, around 630 schools across the state had participated in serving locally grown food in their cafeterias, feeding up to 315,600 students. The initiative continued to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the state’s Department of Agriculture began to fund the CT Grown for CT Kids Grant, which provided “up to $25,000 to support farm to school programming in early childhood education centers and K-12 schools,” according to a UConn report.

Dawn Crayco, the Northeast regional

policy director for FoodCorps, a nationwide organization that partners with Food to School programs, said the grants were “wildly successful,” in supporting schools, farmers, districts and nonprofits to enter new projects like building school gardens or hosting cooking classes.

“But each time, there were over a million dollars requested. The demand is really out there to grow this,” Crayco said.

According to UConn’s Food to School report, the USDA gave Connecticut $1.8 million this spring to continue purchasing “locally or regionally grown unprocessed food products, 80% of which must be from Connecticut.”

“We knew early on that we had to really invest in policy because Connecticut had very little policy as it pertained to Farm to School,” said Crayco. “The only thing we had was a state statute that said there would be a Con-

necticut Grown for Connecticut Kids program and there would be a week in early October that we’d celebrate farmers and schools and the connection between them.”

This legislative session, in a new effort to continue expanding the program, a house bill proposed more funding and a new program to encourage schools to buy locally. House Bill 6842 ultimately merged into Senate Bill 1, which passed both chambers on June 7. S.B. 1 states that the state will create an incentive program, beginning in 2024, where local boards of education would be reimbursed half of their total expenditures when purchasing Connecticut-grown food, or one-third reimbursements for food purchased from New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine.

The Department of Agriculture is also given the ability to provide supplemental grants to local school boards for kitchen equipment, developing relationships with school nutrition or farmto-school consultants and training for processing, preparing or serving local food.

The two-year state budget has allotted $1 million each year for the CT Grown for CT Kids grant program.

Developing Relationships With Food

One’s relationship with food starts young.

Jessica Stone, a first-generation farmer and Connecticut native, remembers wanting to become a farmer by the time she was 7 years old.

“I grew up in a family where my mom was single, and she would spend a lot of time trying to go to bulk sales, and fry hoppers and Little Debbie Snack Cake areas is what I called it — and I real-

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ized, I didn’t feel well when I ate the food,” Stone said. “My rebellion was food.”

Stone, who said her family had a tight budget as she was growing up and couldn’t afford healthy foods, decided she would take matters into her hands.

“I started gardening when I was very young, … all the standards like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant – just experimenting,” Stone said. “My mom always had flowers, so that was kind of cool because I was outside with her and her gardens, and I would just find ways to sneak away and do my own thing.”

Stone’s gardens would grow every time she planted new foods and didn’t feel sick when she ate them.

Often, poor nutrition as a child goes in the other direction: causing unhealthy eating habits, eating disorders or obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of young people between 2 and 19 years old have obesity. About 28.8 million Americans will also have an eating disorder in their lifetime, ANAD reported.

Stone acknowledged that she was lucky to grow up in an area like East Haddam where she had the room to grow her own produce. She eventually pursued an agricultural program in school, which ultimately led to her connecting with Future Farmers of America, traveling, teaching and later becoming the owner of Cold Spring Farm. She now partners with a handful of school districts, including Middletown, to help combat poor nutrition and help provide better nutritional options to children.

“Our goal was to always reconnect with the school system, and we were growing food for schools on a much smaller scale before it became a more popular thing,” Stone said. “And now, we’re like ‘Lets jump into developing this program because the timing is now. There’s funding for it and we’re in a place where we have enough coverage to be able to pull it off.’”

To date, in Middletown, 5% of the district’s produce is locally grown, said Randall Mel, who manages the dis-

trict’s nutrition and wellness services. Stone’s farm helps provide carrots, tomatoes, apples, pears and berries throughout the year, and over the course of three weeks in May, the farm hosted six of Middletown’s eight elementary schools.

The fourth grade students from the district first visited the farm to help sort wool and plant carrots, potatoes and garlic. In the fall, the students will return to harvest their plants.

The recent field trip for some Farm Hill and Snow elementary schools’ students didn’t change the kids’ minds about becoming farmers, despite how much fun it was to grow carrots. Some still want to be hairdressers and others want to be actresses.

But 10-year-old Owen, who’s favorite part of the trip was raking the trenches for the potatoes to grow, thinks he’s a professional farmer now.

When asked if he wanted to be a farmer when he’s older, Owen exclaimed, “Yeah! … or a soccer player.”

Connecticut Impact

In a March public hearing, several school districts and their food services directors, alongside different farming, gardening and educational organizations, supported the expansion of the Connecticut Farm to Schools program.

Advocates said the program can help low-income students have better access to healthy foods, provide better educational opportunities, support underrepresented farmers and boost the state’s local economy. No one testified in opposition.

In 2018, 89 school food authorities, or SFAs, which operate a district’s school lunch program, were serving local food in their schools. That number increased to 106 in 2019, before dropping slightly to 101 in 2022, according to a report released by UConn’s College of Agricultural Health and Natural Resources in mid-April. Despite a lower number of districts serving local food, the report said the “intensity may have increased” among the districts that are serving

locally or regionally grown produce.

“In 2019 there were 61 CT SFAs serving local fruit at least once a week and 48 serving vegetables. By comparison, 87 SFAs currently use local fruit in their cycle menus and 84 incorporate vegetables. Only 10 reported consistently procuring local yogurt or other dairy in 2019, compared to 34 now,” the report said.

UConn also reported that 63% of the state’s SFAs, that responded to their survey, purchased more than half of their produce unprocessed.

“SFAs do seem to prioritize purchasing from nearby areas. Specifically, 83% of SFAs purchased local products from CT, while 49% purchased from Massachusetts and 39% from New York, which are bordering states,” the report said. “Nearly all respondents (92%) served apples grown in Connecticut, followed by summer squash, then lettuce. Green beans, sweet corn, winter squash and berries were also purchased in-state by at least 40% of directors.”

There’s overwhelming support to continue buying locally, as 97% of directors said they “intended to maintain or increase their procurement levels in the next year” and 30% of directors said “farmers were a top source of local food,” which could have an impact on the state economy.

For example, in 2013, when schools in Vermont spent around $915,000 purchasing from local farms, those funds helped not only support farmers but also helped them expand and allowed them to support other businesses, leading to a $1.4 million contribution to that state’s local economy.

Over 70 farms across Connecticut have expressed interest and an ability to sell to schools, including many that are operated and/or owned by underrepresented farmers.

“There is a priority placed on Alliance Districts — so higher need communities that have been marginalized and may have less resources — for this type of programming and work,” Crayco

said. “And then within our incentive program, we’ve built in a preference and priority for socially disadvantaged farmers. So that’ll be up to the Department of Education and working in partnership with us to flesh out what that looks like, but making sure that there are even more of those experiences for students to see that there are farmers in their community and they’re selling to their schools.”

One of those farmers is Zania Johnson, who owns the farm Micro2Life in Simsbury and serves school communities in Hartford and Bloomfield.

“Having this program is one of a kind because it allows for [you to connect with children], especially when I’m looking at the urban communities,” Johnson said, recalling a time she went to a school and brought students a vegetable called bok choy. The students were shocked to learn the vegetable was grown at a farm in Hartford, she said.

“Just exposing them to those opportunities and farming is very hands on. It’s very experimental and it’s very science related. You can learn a lot even through gardening, and I think these are essential skills that students of color need or students that are in urban settings,” Johnson said.

“This program is important and again, it connects myself as a producer to the schools — which I know that if it wasn’t for this program, I don’t know if I would have had the opportunity to be connected to Hartford Public Schools," Johnson added. "So just having that ability to continue to do this work there — it’s very rewarding and sometimes it chokes me up just to have this opportunity. We need this. We need this for our students, and we need this for our schools in general.”

The Newtown Bee is a proud partner and is sharing this story originally appearing at, the website of The Connecticut Mirror, an independent, nonprofit news organization covering government, politics, and public policy in the state.

Back To School 2023 - 15 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023

Library MakerSpace Open To Students, Teachers, Anyone With A Creative Vision

Do you have a creative vision but lack the tools to make it happen?

The Newtown Bee recently took a tour of the chbMAKERS’ Corner at the C.H. Booth Library — an all ages enclave of technology and crafting equipment free to use.

With school projects on the horizon, it may serve teachers and students alike to pay the MakerSpace a visit. The room lives in the back of the Young Adult section of the library, and is open to everyone.

Among the available gadgets are two 3D printers.

“These are the main interests for teens,” said Young Adult Librarian Darcy Sowers on the offering.

To use them, patrons can provide Sowers with an STL file to send to one of the printers. Sowers will then locate the job in the printing queue, and identify the filaments available to build with.

According to Sowers, the 3D printers are one of the things patrons are not allowed to use on their own, as they can heat up significantly.

There are four sewing machines for inlibrary usage. Along with the sewing machines are fabric for experienced textile-crafters or those learning to sew. There is also an embroidery machine available for use.

To take the art of sewing home, there are two sewing machines available for checkout as part of “The Library of Things” at C.H. Booth. A catalog for these items can be found on the C.H. Booth website. New items are currently being added to the library, all free to take home and experiment with.

Sowers explained “The Library of Things” can be good for someone experimenting with a hobby and not yet ready to make a monetary commitment. For instance, a ukulele is one of the offerings

on the site along with other potentially surprising items.

“We are in the process of putting in a telescope as well,” said Sowers.

Adding to the spectrum of crafting possibilities is an entire cabinet full of supplies seemingly limited to the imagination. Of course, there is paper, paints, and beads to choose from, but also unique materials such as ingredients to make bath bombs.

The room is home to a Cricut system as well, which Sowers called “the next big thing” at the MakerSpace. She said it can be used to make different decals on semipermanent vinyl to decorate things such as water bottles and binders.

Sowers added the system can be used to create posters for school projects, which

students can design using programs offered on the computer. Sowers said teachers like to use the Cricut and abundant scrapbook paper for their school bulletin boards.

In addition, the C.H. Booth Cricut includes an attachment to press dishwasher-safe designs into mugs, and a heat press to print washable designs on fabrics.

For curious minds, the space offers “Circuit Cubes” kits, which Sowers explained are “to teach younger ones to use electronics.” She said those who access them can “follow the instructions to make robots they can control with a tablet or phone.”

Other educational kits include “Snap Circuits,” which educate on basic electronics, and Lego-like kits designed to

help teach about Newton’s Law of Motion.

Also available at the MakerSpace is a large-format scanner for pages up to 14 by 17 inches, and for racks of slides — both resources likely appreciated by teachers and students alike.

Some equipment that appeals to more specific interests includes machines ready to digitize VHS tapes and vinyl records, and stationary podcasting microphones.

These microphones are “too good,” according to Sowers, soon likely to be moved because they pick up the quiet white noise of the room.

The MakerSpace is undergoing an inventory review and revamp. Items there are also being moved around to improve the room layout in preparation for a new year.

The space is fully usable and functional while this occurs, and Sowers encouraged all to make an appointment for the space via email. Those registering do not need a library card to access the chbMAKERs’ Corner.

“During the winter and fall, it calms down quite a bit, so it’s a lot easier to get in,” she said. Sowers added that as more staff are trained on the various technologies offered, an appointment may not be required to use the space.

“It’s a lot of fun. I get to make all kinds of things here,” she said, later adding, “there are a lot of things coming down the pipeline” in types of opportunities at the space.

Those interested in making an appointment at the chbMAKERS’ Corner can contact YA Librarian Darcy Sowers at

Those curious about The Library of Things can visit

Reporter Noelle Veillette can be reached at

for the Fall

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While materials at the chbMAKERS’ Corner at the C.H. Booth Library are under an inventory check, the space is open and ready to actualize ideas and inspiration of all kinds. —Bee Photo, Veillette
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Must-Have Items For Your High Schooler

(StatePoint) Setting your high schooler up for a successful school year all starts with having the right educational tools and personal supplies. Here are the must-have items to add to your cart this back-to-school shopping season:

A Tablet or eReader

If you remember your own high school years as being defined by lugging heavy textbooks around campus all day and then home with you each night, consider sending your teen back to school with an e-reader or tablet. This slim, back-saving technology makes it possible for students to access the educational content of all their many courses in one place. What’s more, some studies suggest electronic devices facilitate learning better than physical textbooks. Look for options that offer annotation and note-taking capabilities, as well as a full-color display, so that textbook diagrams and images can be fully understood.

A Graphing Calculator

In high school STEM classes such as trigonometry, calculus and physics, students need to go beyond simply arriving at the correct answer. They must also understand the theory and foundation behind the mathematical principles they are studying. That’s

where a highly-functional graphing calculator can come into play. Designed for high school students and beyond, Casio’s affordable fx-9750GIII graphing calculator builds on the cutting-edge capabilities of its predecessors, offering a more seamless learning experience, an enhanced natural display and an improved keypad for fractions, standard-to-decimal conversion

and scientific notation. Expanded menu options include Exam Mode, to comply with major standardized testtaking rules, as well as a Python Add-In, giving students the ability to create, save, edit and run Python files, as well as import and export these files with streamlined computer connectivity.

Personal Items

Send your teenager to school with some basic personal supplies that they can leave in their locker. Having access to these items between classes will help them feel their best throughout the day and eliminate distractions, so they can better concentrate on learning. A stick of deodorant is especially useful for students enrolled in physical education or who are involved in sports. Also include a bottle of hand sanitizer to help fight infections, particularly as cold and flu season draws near, feminine hygiene products, dental floss and tissues. An extra layer is also always helpful in both cooler weather and during the warmer months when the air conditioning may be running at full force. In high school, the coursework becomes much more challenging and the social terrain much more complex. However, with the latest tech tools and a stash of personal supplies, your teenager can navigate both arenas with less stress.

Teach Kids Kindness And Gratitude With Thank-You Notes

(StatePoint) Nearly 60% of Americans say they send thank you notes at least occasionally to show their appreciation for a gift or favor, according to a recent poll from AmericanGreetings. com. While writing thank yous might seem time consuming, it’s actually a wonderful opportunity to teach children important life lessons such as kindness, gratitude and empathy.

Whether they are thanking their new teacher, their favorite fall sports coach, or a friend or family member, here are a few tips and tricks for creating meaningful – yet simple – thank yous with kids this back-toschool season and beyond.

Focus on the Positive

It’s important to give children

a “why.” Parents should explain that when people receive a thank you note, it not only makes them feel good, but it lets them know that the gift arrived safely and was appreciated. By placing the emphasis on the person who gave them the gift – rather than on themselves – it changes thank yous from a pain-point to a positive.

Make it a Fun with Devices

Kids love devices – so put their screen time to good use with apps like American Greetings Creatacard for iPad. The app offers a fun, easy and engaging tool to make and send greeting cards. Plus, receiving them will be just as exciting – as homemade cards

from kids are enjoyed by 93% of Americans! Whether making a card from scratch, coloring a card or customizing a pre-made design, the Creatacard app allows kids to explore their imaginations. Simply choose from a variety of virtual (and mess-free) tools, such as pencils, paint, markers, photo frames, stamps and stickers to add designs, images and personalized messages. Best of all, the app is free to download, and cards can be sent instantly via email, text, messaging apps or shared on social media.

Power of Personalization

According to the American Greetings poll, personalized

messages are the most important and enjoyed part of thank you notes. Parents should encourage kids to think about what made the gift so special and be sure to communicate that message. Was it something they really needed or wanted? Will they use the check or money for a specific purpose? Spending a few extra minutes personalizing each note will go a long way to show their sincere appreciation.

Timing is Everything –

The Sooner the Better!

It’s proper etiquette to be timely in sending thank you notes. In fact, 54% of Americans say they should be sent within one week of receiving a

gift. Build good habits with kids by sending thank yous as soon as possible. It may be helpful to plan ahead and establish a set time within a week of the celebration for children to create and send their cards. And luckily, if you’re sending digital greetings, they’ll arrive instantly, save money on postage, and save time by eliminating the need to find current street addresses.

Teaching kids the importance of properly showing gratitude is a life skill they can take with them as they grow older. Starting small with thank you notes can be an invaluable step to becoming a kinder and more gracious person.

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Fall Sports Schedules

Newtown High School varsity fall sports schedules, subject to change; visit or for updates. Home games listed in bold:


Friday, 9/8 St Joseph Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 7 pm

Friday, 9/15 New Milford Home —

Blue and Gold Stadium 7 pm

Friday, 9/22 Trumbull Away — Trumbull

HS-McDougall Stadium 7 pm

Friday, 9/29 Stratford Away — Penders

Field — Stratford 7 pm

Friday, 10/13 New Fairfield Away — New

Fairfield HS-Stadium Field 7 pm

Friday, 10/20 Weston Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 7 pm

Friday, 10/27 West Haven Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 7 pm

Friday, 11/3 Pomperaug Away — Pomper-

aug HS-Stadium 6:30 pm

Friday, 11/10 Bunnell Away — Bunnell

HS-Mastroni Field 7 pm

Wednesday, 11/22 Masuk Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm


Tuesday, 9/12 Pomperaug, Immaculate Away — Pomperaug 5 pm

Tuesday, 9/19 Brookfield, Bunnell, New Fairfield Home — Reed Intermediate School-Reed Intermediate

School XC Trail 5 pm

Tuesday, 9/26 Stratford, Joel Barlow Away — Wooster MS Field 4:30 pm

Tuesday, 10/3 Masuk, Bethel, Kolbe

Cathedral Away — Great Hollow Lake

Field-Cross Country Trail 5 pm

Tuesday, 10/10 New Milford, Notre DameFairfield, Weston Away — New Milford

HS-Joe Wiser Stadium 5 pm


Monday, 9/11 Pomperaug, Immaculate

Away — Pomperaug High 4:30 pm

Tuesday, 9/19 Brookfield, Bunnell, New Fairfield Home — Reed Intermediate School-Reed Intermediate School XC Trail 4:30 pm

Tuesday, 9/26 Stratford, Joel Barlow Away — Wooster MS Field 5 pm

Tuesday, 10/3 Masuk, Bethel, Kolbe

Cathedral Away — Great Hollow Lake Field-Cross Country Trail 4:30 pm

Tuesday, 10/10 New Milford, Notre DameFairfield, Weston Away — New Milford

HS-Joe Wiser Stadium 4:30 pm


Wednesday, 8/23 Joel Barlow Home — Rock Ridge Country Club 3 pm

Thursday, 8/24 Weston Away — Weston

HS-Aspetuck Country Club 3 pm

Monday, 8/28 Brookfield Home —

Rock Ridge Country Club 3 pm

Thursday, 8/31 New Milford Away — Candlewood Valley Country Club 3 pm

Tuesday, 9/5 New Fairfield Home — Rock Ridge Country Club 3:30 pm

Wednesday, 9/6 Joel Barlow Home — Rock Ridge Country Club 3:30 pm

Monday, 9/11 Weston Away — Weston HSAspetuck Country Club 3 pm

Tuesday, 9/12 Bunnell Away — Bunnell

HS-Blackhawk Country Club (Old OCC)

3 pm

Tuesday, 9/19 Notre Dame-Fairfield Home — Rock Ridge Country Club 3:30 pm

Wednesday, 9/20 Masuk Home — Rock Ridge Country Club 3:30 pm

Tuesday, 10/3 Bethel Away — Bethel HSConnecticut Country Club 3 pm

Wednesday, 10/4 Stratford Home — Rock Ridge Country Club 3:30 pm

Tuesday, 10/10 Immaculate Away — Immaculate HS-Richter Park 3 pm


Friday, 9/8 Weston Home 4:30 pm

Tuesday, 9/12 Pomperaug Home 5 pm

Tuesday, 9/19 New Milford Home 5 pm

Friday, 9/22 Masuk Away 4 pm

Friday, 9/29 Bunnell Home 5 pm

Tuesday, 10/3 Bethel/Immaculate Home 4 pm

Friday, 10/6 Stratford Home 5 pm

Tuesday, 10/10 Joel Barlow Away — Brookfield YMCA-Outside/Dome Pool 4 pm

Friday, 10/13 New Fairfield Away — New Fairfield HS-Pool 4 pm

Tuesday, 10/24 Brookfield Away — Brookfield YMCA-Outside/Dome Pool 6 pm

Monday, 10/30 SWC Diving Championship Meet Away — Weston HS-Weston MS Pool

5:30 pm


Saturday, 9/9 Daniel Hand Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 1 pm

Tuesday, 9/12 Joel Barlow Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Thursday, 9/14 Bunnell Home — Treadwell Park-Newtown Treadwell Park 6 pm

Saturday, 9/16 Masuk Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 12 pm (pending time change to 11 am)

Tuesday, 9/19 Weston Away — Weston HSWHS Stadium Field 6 pm

Thursday, 9/21 Pomperaug Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Tuesday, 9/26 Bethel Away — Bethel HS-MS Turf baseball field 4 pm

Thursday, 9/28 New Fairfield Away — New Fairfield HS-Marty Morgan Field

4 pm

Tuesday, 10/3 Kolbe Cathedral Home

— Blue and Gold Stadium 4 pm

Thursday, 10/5 Immaculate Away —

Immaculate HS-Mustang Valley 4 pm

Saturday, 10/7 Suffield Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 11 am

Tuesday, 10/10 Brookfield Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Thursday, 10/12 Stratford Away — Penders Field-Penders Field — Stratford

6:30 pm

Tuesday, 10/17 Notre Dame-Fairfield Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Thursday, 10/19 New Milford Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Monday, 10/23 Masuk Away — Masuk HSBenedict Stadium Field @ Masuk HS 6 pm


Saturday, 9/9 Newington — Farmington

Sports Arena 10 am CT High School Soccer Challenge

Tuesday, 9/12 Joel Barlow Away — Joel Barlow HS-Field J (Competition Field)

4 pm

Thursday, 9/14 Bunnell Away — Bunnell HS-Mastroni Field 6 pm

Tuesday, 9/19 Weston Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Thursday, 9/21 Pomperaug Away — Pomperaug HS-Stadium 7 pm

Saturday, 9/23 Naugatuck Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 1:30 pm

Tuesday, 9/26 Bethel Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Thursday, 9/28 New Fairfield Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Saturday, 9/30 Xavier Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Tuesday, 10/3 Kolbe Cathedral Away — Veterans Memorial Park CT 4:15 pm

Thursday, 10/5 Immaculate Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Tuesday, 10/10 Brookfield Away — Brookfield HS-BHS Stadium Field 6 pm

Thursday, 10/12 Stratford Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Tuesday, 10/17 Notre Dame-Fairfield Away — Notre Dame-Fairfield — Park Ave Field 4 pm

Thursday, 10/19 New Milford Away — New Milford HS-Joe Wiser Stadium 6 pm

Monday, 10/23 Masuk Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm


Saturday, 9/9 Fairfield Ludlowe Away — Fairfield Ludlowe HS-Taft Field TBA

Monday, 9/11 Longmeadow, Mass. Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 4 pm

Thursday, 9/14 New Milford Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Friday, 9/15 Trumbull Home — Treadwell Park-Newtown Treadwell Park 4 pm

Monday, 9/18 New Milford Away — New

Milford HS-Joe Wiser Stadium 5:30 pm

Wednesday, 9/20 Masuk Away — Masuk HS-Benedict Stadium Field 7 pm

Saturday, 9/23 Branford Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 11:30 am

Wednesday, 9/27 Brookfield Home — Treadwell Park-Newtown Treadwell Park 4 pm

Saturday, 9/30 Masuk Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 11:30 am (pending time change to 10:30 am)

Monday, 10/2 Weston Away — Weston HSWHS Lower Turf Field 5:30 pm

Saturday, 10/7 Immaculate Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 6 pm

Friday, 10/13 New Fairfield Home — Blue and Gold Stadium 5:30 pm (pending time change to 5 pm)

Monday, 10/16 Joel Barlow Away — Joel Barlow HS-Field I (Stadium) 6:45 pm

Wednesday, 10/18 Bethel Home — Treadwell Park-Newtown Treadwell Park 4 pm

Monday, 10/23 Pomperaug Away — Pomperaug HS-Stadium 7 pm


Thursday, 9/7 Woodstock Academy Home 6 pm

Monday, 9/11 East Lyme Home 5:30 pm

Thursday, 9/14 St Joseph Home 5:30 pm

Monday, 9/18 Masuk Home 6 pm

Wednesday, 9/20 Joel Barlow Away — Joel Barlow HS-Lower Gym 5:30 pm

Thursday, 9/21 Fairfield Ludlowe Away — Fairfield Ludlowe HS-Main Gym 4 pm

Friday, 9/22 Bethel Away — Bethel Gym 4 pm

Saturday, 9/23 John Jay Volleyball Tournament Home — Gym 9 am

Tuesday, 9/26 Joel Barlow Home 5:30 pm

Wednesday, 9/27 Bunnell Home 6 pm

Friday, 9/29 Weston Away — Weston HSGym (New) 5:30 pm

Monday, 10/2 Pomperaug Home 5:30 pm

Wednesday, 10/4 Brookfield Away — Brookfield HS-BHS Big Gym 5:30 pm

Friday, 10/6 New Fairfield Away — New Fairfield HS-High School Gym 5:30 pm

Tuesday, 10/10 Kolbe Cathedral Home 6 pm

Thursday, 10/12 Immaculate Away — Immaculate HS 7 pm

Monday, 10/16 Bethel Home 6 pm (pending time change to 5:30 pm)

Wednesday, 10/18 Stratford Away — Stratford HS-Gym 6 pm

Friday, 10/20 Notre Dame-Fairfield Home 6 pm

Monday, 10/23 New Milford Home 5:30 pm

20 - Back To School 2023 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023

Student Eligibility For Free School Meals Increased Last Year

The number of students eligible for free and reduced-price school meals grew during the 2022-2023 school year but remains below the eligibility of students state-wide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statewide, 42.4 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced price meals during the 2022-2023 school year, an increase of nearly 2 percent from the 40.6 percent of students eligible during the 2021-2022 school year.

During the 2018-2019 school year, statewide student eligibility for free and reduced-price meals was 42.1 percent. The following year, 2019-2020, eligibility increased to 43.3 percent, then fell slightly to 42.7 percent during the 2020-2021 school year. All three school years were affected by COVID-19 related school closures.

Eligibility for free and reduced price school meals through the National School Lunch Program is determined by a variety of factors. Children can be “categorically eligible” if they participate in federal assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or through enrollment in a Head-Start Program. Family size and household income can also determine a child’s eligibility. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive free meals, while students whose families have incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive reduced price meals.

In the last decade, the lowest percentage of eligible students was 36.7 percent, during the 2017-2018 school year.

According to estimates from Feeding America, around 1 in 10 people in the state struggle with hunger, including more than 83,000 children.


During the most recent school year, 28 participating Connecticut schools had student populations that were 100 percent eligible for free or reduced price meals. Ten of these were located in the Hartford School District.

In the same year, there were 21 schools with no students eligible to receive free or reduced price student meals. The eligibility rate at a number of other schools was not recorded, as the State Department of Education suppresses some reported data, to protect student privacy.

During the pandemic, the federal government expanded eligibility for free school meals. Waivers put in place by the federal U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which administers the National School Lunch Program, made school breakfast and lunch free to all K-12 students who attended schools participating in the school lunch program in 2021.

In 2022, the Keep Kids Fed Act, which increased reimbursement rates for school lunches and breakfasts and gave the USDA expanded authority to waive requirements for school meals, became federal law.

Federal funding for all students at participating schools expired on September 30, 2022. Connecticut legislators allocated $30 million in federal pandemic relief funds to extend free school meals through the end of 2022.

In February 2023, a bill that included an additional $60 million in funding to extend the free school meals program through the end of 2023 school year became law.

This report comes to you from Connecticut Inside Investigator (CII) — a nonprofit newsroom partnering with The Newtown Bee on a mission to inform the people of Newtown and Connecticut through investigative journalism and inspire the public through engaging stories.

What will your path look like from here to higher education? How will you make the most of your high school years? What will you discover about yourself, your passions, your potential? Who will you impact along the way?

At St. Joseph High School, we help young men and women make the most of their high school experience. That’s why we say our students are On A Mission For More. More challenges. More celebrations. More unique experiences. More opportunities to serve their community. Visit St. Joes and discover your mission for more!

Newtown, CT

Classes for 3s and 4s include Science, Music and Gym! 2s Program in Special 2s Classroom!!

September 27

October 7

October 22

Entrance Exams (one-time test)

October 28

November 11

Application Deadline

November 15

Back To School 2023 - 21 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023 St. Joseph High School 2320 Huntington Turnpike Trumbull, CT 06611 (203)378-9378 x308
Student Visit Days Begin
September 21 Admission Information Session
Entrance Exam Preparation Course
Fall Open House
program with extended hours for 4-5 year olds!!!
by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs
Main Street,
what earned Trinity Day School such high scores for NAEYC!
Come for
personal tour (bring your child too), see

Kids Have Questions About Their Bodies, Now You Have Answers

(StatePoint) Children have a lot of questions about the way the world works and parents hope to have straightforward answers. But when it comes to questions regarding the body, parents and kids alike can find these conversations awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing. Experts say that destigmatizing a child’s curiosity about their body will not only help them take better care of their health, it may even spark their interest in science.

“Kids have so many questions about their bodies, some practical, some pure curiosity. Sadly, society sometimes chastises children for even asking these questions. By better understanding their bodies though, they can adopt good habits that stay with them for life, and learn about physics and biology in a fun way,” says David L. Hu, Ph.D., a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and author of “The P Word: A Manual for Mammals.”

Dr. Hu, an award-winning scientist, animal expert and author, wrote “The P Word” for his 10-year old son, who like many children his age, is eager to learn more about his body. While previous books dealing with this topic are written with teenagers in mind, Dr. Hu believes it’s important for younger kids to enter puberty already having all the facts about their biology. His book, meant for ages 7-12, introduces the penis as an organ that unites all biologically male mammals. It’s meant to serve as a gender-neutral, definitive resource about the penis for kids, providing tools kids need to

(StatePoint) Back to school is a time of new beginnings for kids. Between classroom learning, extracurricular activities, sports and socializing, fun and filling snacks can help kids have a moment away from school-year pressures while also encouraging all that excitement and learning.

In fact, nearly 3 in 4 Americans snack at least once a day, according to an International Food Information Council survey conducted by Ipsos. When it comes to your children’s snack time, here’s how to make these occasions more delicious:

recognize and name their body parts, understand when something might be wrong and practice good hygiene.

If you’re a parent of a curious kid, or a parent of a child who hasn’t yet voiced their questions, Dr. Hu offers the following tips:

1. Try not to shy away from these conversations or make your child feel ashamed for asking a question about their body. Keep in mind that many children will turn to the internet for answers if you aren’t open to answering their questions, where they may encoun-

ter false information or inappropriate content. Instead, acknowledge their curiosity by answering their questions as best you can, and by pointing them to trustworthy resources.

2. Don’t wait until your child reaches puberty. If you start talking to kids about their bodies when they are young, you’ll normalize and desensitize the subject, and the act of talking about it. Helping a child feel comfortable in their own skin before things start to change, will set the stage for less stress during puberty.

3. Help kids understand that their body is natural and normal. In “The P Word,” Dr. Hu intentionally presents colorful, engaging images and facts about different mammals around the globe alongside information about human bodies, including how animals use their penises to pee, mark their territory and reproduce. “Comparative biology makes learning fun and amusing, lightens the mood around a serious subject, helps young kids understand their place in nature, and offers insights into the role of their penis or vagina outside the role of sex,” says Dr. Hu.

A valuable resource for parents, librarians, educators and of course, kids, more information about “The P-Word” can be found by visiting product-page/the-p-word-a-manual-for-mammals. “My hope is that kids realize that every question they have, no matter how embarrassing it is, can be addressed by the tools of science. They should be proud of being curious about their own bodies,” Dr. Hu.

Quick, Convenient, Delicious Back-to-School Snacks

Easy Sweet Treats

The back-to-school season is not only hectic for kids, but it’s also busy for parents too. Having conveniently packaged snacks on hand can be a time-saving game-changer this school year!

Serving your kids baked goods made from high-quality ingredients can be as simple as opening a box of Entenmann’s. With 125 years of baking experience, the brand’s wide variety of delicious baked goods is a fun addition to any breakfast or lunch box, and can even be enjoyed as an after-school treat! This fall, be sure to add these favorites to your snack line-up: Powdered Pop’ettes,

Pop’ems Glazed Donut Holes and Baker’s Delights Mini Crumb Cake. Baker’s Delights are individually wrapped snack cakes that are a great option for on-the-go snacking or a sweet addition to any lunch. Want to get creative? Check out for a variety of recipes that put a twist on classic Entenmann’s treats.

Savory Snacks

Balance the sweet with some savory snacks too. For after school, stock your fridge with items like baby carrots and hummus, crackers and cheese, plus ingredients needed for hearty snacks like ham

and cheese pinwheels. Having these items handy can make it easy to feed hungry kids or allow them to serve themselves. Plus, they’ll be all set for their afternoon, whether that entails homework or hanging out with friends. For on-the-go bites to pack in lunch boxes or bring to sports games, consider sandwich baggies filled with nuts, pretzel sticks and cheddar cheese slices.

Amid the stress and anxiety of a new school year, sweet treats and savory snacks can help keep your kids satisfied, while also providing a moment away from the demands of school.

22 - Back To School 2023 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023 .. . .. .. .. .... ..... ... ... ........ - . .... . .. .... .... .. .. . .. .. .. .... ... .. ... ... ... ... • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • ' AT WALNUT HILL COMMUNITY CHURCH • • • • • • • • ' • • • • • • • • • . .. .. -. . . . . . . . .. .. ... . . . ........ ........ - . ............ .. · ··· ···· ·· ·· · ··-· Sunday, September 17 Join us after the 11 a.m. service for food and fun! Walnut Hill Community Church Bethel Campus 156 Walnut Hill Road, Bethel, CT 06801 I 203.796.7373 I

Everything You Need To Know About Student Loans

(StatePoint) — More American families are borrowing for college. At the same time, merit aid and the use of personal income and savings is falling.

That’s according to an annual College Ave Student Loans survey of college students at four-year universities, conducted with Barnes & Noble College Insights. The survey also found college affordability is top-of-mind for the majority of students (57%). Despite financial concerns, 81% of students report that a college degree is crucial for their future.

“The mix of methods that families use to pay for college has shifted, however one thing remains consistent: students and families value the investment in higher education,” says Angela Colatriano, chief marketing officer of College Ave.

To borrow smart for college this fall, consider these tips and insights:

Exhaust All Options

Before turning to private student loans, first exhaust other sources of financial

aid. Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to be considered for grants, scholarships, workstudy programs and federal student loans.

If your selected school is one of the 400 institutions that requires the CSS profile, submit that too to qualify for institutional aid. Finally, search for private scholarships offered by companies and non-profit organizations. One easy one to apply for is the College Ave $1,000 monthly scholarship sweepstakes.

If you do need to borrow, turn to federal student loans in the student’s name first, which generally offer the lowest rates and come with additional benefits. They don’t depend on credit scores, and offer longer deferments and forbearances, incomedriven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness.

Private Student Loans

Federal student loans have annual and aggregate loan limits. If you find yourself needing to borrow parent or private loans

to cover remaining costs, consider these factors:

*Costs: Compare costs of different loans by looking at the actual interest rate you’ll be charged, not the lowest advertised rate. Understand the difference between variable and fixed interest rates, and be aware of any fees and available discounts, such as those offered for using autopay.

*Cosigners: A creditworthy cosigner doesn’t just increase the odds of loan approval, even if the student can qualify on their own, cosigning may yield a lower interest rate, reducing the overall cost of the loan.

*Total Debt: Borrow only what you need. With private loans, you can usually borrow up to the total cost of attendance. However, borrowing less than the maximum can help you save over time. A simple rule of thumb you can use to determine how much student loan debt you can afford: If total student loan debt at graduation, including federal and private loans,

is less than the student’s annual starting salary, you can likely repay the loans in 10 years or less.

*Repayment: Look for repayment flexibility to match your needs. For example, College Ave Student Loans offers 5-, 8-, 10- and 15-year repayment options, along with the choice of deferring payments until after graduation or beginning payments right away. No matter what option you select, understand the terms.

Private loans for college can play an important role in financing your education. By researching your financial aid options, applying for scholarships and comparing private student loan options, you can minimize college costs, so you can better manage your finances after you graduate.

Editor's Note: Potential borrowers should be advised that consolidating or refinancing existing student loans to a private lender will disqualify them from any future federal student loan relief or forgiveness program.

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Back To School 2023 - 23 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023
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Back To School 2023 - 25 The Newtown Bee - August 18, 2023
“Keeping Newtown Clean and Green” • Family Owned and Operated Since 1982 • 203-426-8870 2016 Business of The Year Winner Newtown Chamber NEWTOWN PUBLIC SCHOOLS 2023-2024 SCHOOL CALENDAR AUGUST 2(6) SEPTEMBER 19(19) OCTOBER 22 (22) NOVEMBER 18 (19) M T W TH F M T W TH F M T W TH F M T W TH F 1 2 3 * 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 6 * 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 *18 *19 *20 13 14 * 15 *16 17 24 25 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 20 21 22 23 24 28 29 30 31 25 26 *27 28 29 30 31 27 28 29 30 24-All Teachers Report 24, 25, 28, 29 –Staff Development Days 30 – Students Report 4 - Labor Day - Schools Closed 25 -Yom Kippur – Schools Closed *27-3 hr. Early Dismissal – K-6 Only Staff Development *4 - 3 hr. Early Dismissal - Staff Dev. *18, 19, 20 3 hr. early dismissalElementary, Reed and Middle School Conferences *7-Election Day-Schools Closed for Students, Staff Development *15 & 16-3 hr. Early Dismissal High School Conferences 22, 23, 24-Thanksgiving Recess DECEMBER 16(16) JANUARY 21(21) FEBRUARY 18(18) MARCH 20(20) M T W TH F M T W TH F M T W TH F M T W TH F 1 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 1 4 5 6 7 8 8 9 10 11 12 5 6 7 8 9 4 5 6 7 8 11 12 13 *14 15 15 16 17 18 19 12 13 14 15 16 11 12 13 *14 *15 18 19 20 21 *22 22 23 24 25 26 19 20 21 22 23 18 19 20 *21 * 22 25 26 27 28 29 29 30 *31 26 27 28 29 25 26 *27 28 29 *14 – 3 hr. Delayed Opening - Staff Self-Directed *22--3 hr. Early Dismissal - Holiday 25-29-Holiday Recess 1 -*New Year’s Day – Schools Closed 15-Martin Luther King Day - Schools Closed *31 – 3 hr. Early Dismissal – Staff Development 16 – 20 Schools Closed *14 & 15-3 hr. Early Dismissal-Elem, Reed and Middle School Conferences (21 & 22 makeups) *14 -High School Conferences (21- High School make-up day) *27 – 3 hr. Early Dismissal 7-12 OnlyPSAT/SAT Testing Day/Staff Dev. 29 - Good Friday - Schools Closed APRIL 17(17) MAY 22(22) JUNE 7(7) M T W TH F M T W TH F M T W TH F Please Note: State of Connecticut mandates 180 calendar days for students. Beyond the projected June 11 date, school cancellation days will be made up by adding days through June Last 3 days of the school year will be early dismissals 1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 6 7 8 9 10 10 ☼11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 13 14 *15 16 17 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 20 21 22 23 24 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 27 28 29 30 31 15-19 - Schools Closed *15- 3 hr. Early dismissal - Staff Dev. 27-Memorial Day- Schools Closed ☼-Projected last day of school 19 – Juneteenth – Schools Closed for staff & students if schools is in session Please Note: Shaded calendar days = all schools closed for staff and students Open House Dates: Elementary: Sept. 12 & 13 Reed Intermediate: Sept. 7 Middle School: Aug 31 gr. 7, Sept. 6 gr. 8 High School: Sept. 14 Student Days – 182 Teacher Days – 187 Adopted: March 7, 2023
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