CHESHIRE, Mass. — Hoosac Valley Elementary's Principal Peter Bachli described the past school year succinctly for the School Committee on Monday.
"We have without a doubt had a year like no other," the interim principal said.
Bachli believed the two words that best describe the efforts of students, teachers and administrators this year are "resilience and perseverance."
While he was saying goodbye, the school's new principal — Erin Beaulac — was introduced to the School Committee.
Bachli, who had been principal at Cheshire Elementary from 2009 until its closure in 2017, retired from Morris Elementary in Lenox last year.
Beaulac comes from Springfield and has experience in both teaching and administrating in elementary schools there, including as assistant principal at German Gerena Community School.
Hoosac Valley Middle School principal Christopher Sposato also presented a review of the school year for the middle school. He noted that attendance, participation and passing rates all increased during this school year. Sposato mentioned that some COVID-19 restrictions remain in place for the school and suggested, for instance, that parents send their kids to school with water bottles because the fountains will still be turned off for the rest of the school year.
Sposato introduced some changes to the curriculum and schedule for the middle school for the upcoming school year. He reported that math and English language arts (ELA) were getting a bump in class time this year.
Some committee members expressed concern that this would take time away from science and social studies classes. Sposato noted that this problem would be alleviated by incorporating math and ELA into those other classes, creating a more holistic learning experience.
Hoosac Valley High School Principal Colleen Byrd also reported on her school's performance during the pandemic and presented a new learning program for the high school in the upcoming year. Attendance increased this year, reaching a daily average of 90 percent, she said. She also reported that passing rates increased, partly because of a lower homework load and increased group learning.
Byrd outlined the new Pathways initiative. This program offers students choices regarding their academic paths, with the dual goals of preparing students for life after graduation and providing a more enriching academic experience. For instance, Byrd introduced an internship and work study program that will allow high school students to work in the community and gain valuable career experience.
Byrd said the school district will be launching a public relations campaign to sell the new program to prospective students.
"We have not done a good job really talking about what we have," she said, including, "the vast amount of AP classes that we offer and the hands-on activities that we do have for students."
Byrd later said, "I'm hoping that part of the promotion of the high school is going to be not only what we have to offer for courses but how we can show students their pathway regardless of what they're going to do after graduation."
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