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It's back-to-school time, and students in the Region 4 School system will be met with several changes this year, from new baseball dugouts at Valley Regional High School to 24 newly hired certified and non-certified staff members. It's been a busy summer, and on Thursday, Aug. 28 it'll be time to crack open the books and get back to learning on the first day of school.
"There will be a lot of new faces walking the halls this school year, more than I think we have ever hired in one year," said Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy. "We wish all the outgoing staff well and we know the new staff will provide our children with rich and wonderful experiences. This is a new chapter of enlightening our children in new and different ways."
New Deep River Elementary School Principal Christian Strickland is excited to greet students, staff, and parents on Aug. 28. Another addition
at the Central Office is new Director of Pupil Services Sarah Smalley.
"This is going to be an exciting new year with lots of different initiatives," said Levy. "We will continue to move forward with the Common Core initiative in language arts and math across the schools."
Levy added, "We are also beginning a new way of looking at instructional data through the NWEA [the Northwest Evaluation Association], which is a way to be able to accurately, in real time, assess student performance, which enables teachers to make adjustments in their instructional practices almost immediately to meet the needs of each child. We are very excited about this."
Region 4 has instituted new technology this year to allow for an online lunch payment system, which will allow parents to pay for their child's lunch cards with credit cards. There has been a healthy addition-an organic garden at the middle school.
"The vegetables grown here will be incorporated into our lunch program and provide our students with healthier, nutritious meals, taking the garden into the classrooms," said Levy.
Another new change is that the Essex Elementary School was hooked up to the gas line this summer, converting the heating system of the school from oil heat to gas, which will more cost-effective.
Region 4 is implementing some new safety and security procedures, including a new arrival and dismissal procedure at the Deep River Elementary School. All the schools will continue to work closely with the constables and resident state troopers as well as Troop F state police. Law enforcement will remain a constant at all schools in the morning during drop off as well as at dismissal times, and police presence will be interspersed throughout the day at the schools.
"We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful working relationship with the law enforcement in the area and we all work together to ensure our students' safety is a number-one priority for us," said Levy.
She added, "Our schools and facilities are ready, and we are excited for the new school year and to welcome back our students. We look forward to a positive and productive school year."