NEW BRITAIN - The first day of school proved a few minutes longer for many city students, thanks to bus delays Thursday afternoon.
Buses left New Britain High School and DiLoreto Elementary and Middle School 15 minutes late, the school district announced on Twitter. As a result, many elementary school routes were delayed by 20 to 30 minutes.
“There were some transportation glitches, but those were due to school staff ensuring that all students were accounted for and were on the proper buses,” said Superintendent of Schools Nancy Sarra. “If there are delays as schools start to dismiss, it creates ripple effects in other schools. As we move forward, the process should run smoother, with minimal interruptions in service.”
Sarra thanked First Student and Specialty Transportation for working with the district throughout the day and having practiced on their routes before Thursday.
Otherwise, the first day of school went well, said Sarra.
“Assistant Superintendent Mike Foran and I visited many of our schools today and will visit the rest tomorrow,” said Sarra. “Our students and staff are energized and excited to be back in school.”
“This is a year for all of us to adapt our approach as we pursue excellence for every student in New Britain,” said Sarra. “We have some new administrators and I am looking forward to watching them grow throughout the year. We also have new teachers and staff throughout the district and I am looking forward to seeing them have a direct impact on students every day.
“Following [Wednesday’s] convocation, the feedback we have received from staff is that they are excited and looking forward to a successful school year.”
Numerous changes have been instituted across the school system for 2018-19, including the hiring of a new principal at the high school, the shifting of several administrators, and the reassignment of several teachers to new schools.
The district is trying to implement more of a STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) approach from kindergarten through eighth grade, and has added career pathways and elective classes at the high school, Sarra said.
Personnel from the district’s central office and other community leaders were present at 18 schools, starting as early as 6:45 a.m.
They included Central Connecticut State University President Zulma Toro at Gaffney Elementary School, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty at Lincoln Elementary School and staff from the city’s Parks and Recreation Departmenrt at Northend Elementary Schools.
At Smith Elementary School, representatives of AAA and the state and city police were on hand to help welcome the next group of fifth-grade participants in AAA’s School Safety Patrol program.
“It’s about demonstrating leadership and leading by example,” said Amy Parmenter, public and government affairs manager for AAA, of the program.
About 30 elementary schools in Greater Hartford are participating in the program this year, Parmenter said, with Smith the only New Britain school.
“The schools can adapt the program to really meet their needs,” added Parmenter, “but they’re letting the older kids feel good and rewarded about the examples they set with young leaders.”
“It feels like we have a lot of responsibility,” said Mikaila Shaw, 9. “I like how people look up to me. Always help people that are in need.”
“It feels good,” said Skylar Bermudez, 9. “I like that I can look out for others and keep them safe. Look out for others.”
“We put a lot of trust in them. … It’s all those executive functioning skills that they need for life,” said Smith Principal Karen Falvey.
She said they’ll hold doors opens for students, help direct lost classmates and raise the flags, along with several other responsibilities.
As the day was ending at North End Elementary School, Rosalie Paladino said the teachers were pleasant, but still, she had been sad to drop off her “baby,” daughter Gianna, for kindergarten.
“I was not scared,” said Gianna, 5.