As we transition from the warm days of summer to the beginning of the new school year, I hope that you were able to create fond memories over the course of the last few months. I have heard many people in our school community say they had a great summer, but they are ready and excited to return to school this fall.
After our staff spent three in-service days in preparation for the 2021-2022 school year, our students returned to school on Sept. 7. I am proud of the commitment of our school district’s effort to offer full, in-person learning every day for all of our kids this year after the challenges we experienced for the past 19 months.
Though students officially started school this past Tuesday, our schools did not close this summer. Hundreds of students participated in robust, summer learning experiences. In addition to our traditional extended year learning opportunities and credit recovery programs, some of our students engaged in summer learning labs. Students in these labs completed a project about our community while building core literacy and math skills. Teachers in these labs engaged in professional development to support quality teaching and learning while working with students. Additionally, Laconia coaches provided opportunities for student athletes to play sports all summer.
Our facilities staff did their usual fantastic job of cleaning our buildings in preparation for the fall and the reopening of school to all students. There were also several facilities projects completed over the past few months, including paving at Woodland Heights, roofing repairs at Elm Street School and Laconia High School, and the installation of new floors in the Pleasant Street School Library and in the grade 5 pod at Woodland Heights Elementary School. Our custodial crews are the unsung heroes of the Laconia School District. We are very appreciative of their amazing, never-ending, high quality work.
We are continuing to focus on teaching and learning and on our Portrait of a Graduate, which is comprised of six skills that our school community has determined to be essential for our students to be successful in school and in their futures in order to be successfully prepared to excel in college, career, community, and life after graduation. These skills include collaboration, communication, creativity, perseverance, problem-solving, and self-direction. "Reading, writing, and discussing" with clear learning goals, enduring understandings, and essential questions in each content area are what we want our students focusing on in classrooms across our district.
Though they have been relaxed since last year, we still have health guidelines in place in an effort to mitigate COVID-19. We will continue to monitor the school, city, and regional COVID data and will respond to cases as necessary should they arise. Our goal is to have our staff in school providing in-person learning for our students in our schools every day. We have hired additional staff to work directly with students with federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, which are intended to help schools safely reopen and sustain operations in support of the nation’s children during the pandemic.
In closing, I offer this interesting data point: As this new school year begins, two-thirds of all of our new staff either graduated from Laconia High School, live in Laconia, and/or worked in our schools previously and have chosen to return to us. I believe that says a great deal about the direction we are heading in Sachem Nation.
I wish all of our students, staff, and families a wonderful 2021-22 school year!
Steve Tucker, Superintendent, Laconia School District