NEW BRITAIN – What better reward for perfect school attendance than hot, delicious pizza and a thank you from teachers?
Pulaski Middle School students who attended classes and completed assignments every day for the whole first trimester were treated to a special recognition event Tuesday evening outside the school.
“These kids have persevered and shown they can adapt to the situation and be successful under these difficult conditions,” Pulaski Principal Johanna Robles said. “With the pandemic and virtual learning, it hasn’t been easy. Today we wanted to recognize their efforts.”
Among a student body of 911 pupils, 345 – about one-third – showed perfect attendance in school through the first trimester, which ran Sept. 8 to Dec. 2, 2020.
Silas Karsaliakos was one of these students.
The 13-year-old drove up to the main office with his grandfather Richard Coscina Tuesday and Robles handed them two paper plates with slices of pizza to enjoy.
Teachers on the sidewalk cheered and waved.
“Between him and his brother they get a little bored sometimes, but they get online and do what they need to do for school,” Coscina said. “I am proud of them. They do a great job.”
When asked how he was able to complete such a feat, Silas said, “I really don’t know” adding he loves school.
Family School Liaison Jason Gibson works hard to bridge a positive relationship between families, Pulaski and the community at-large. He didn’t expect all 345 kids and their parents to show up for the recognition event Tuesday, but happily greeted those did.
“We understand with the precautions some families may be hesitant to come out today, but we just wanted to show our appreciation,” Gibson said of the event. “During these times, to have kids wanting to continue their education is really a great thing. It’s also a testament to their parents and teachers.”
Assistant Superintendent of the Consolidated School District of New Britain Michael Foran congratulated Pulaski families as well as school staff.
“I think they’ve done a great job being very creative finding ways to engage students in the remote world,” Foran said “It takes out-of-the-box thinking this year.”
Teacher James Gomulinski’s homeroom class was honored individually for achieving the highest attendance rate among all homerooms for the trimester.
In terms of the whole district, New Britain has come a long way since the day schools first shut down due to covid-19.
“We learned a lot from March to June,” Foran said. “We’ve seen significant improvements in attendance this year from last year.”
New U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona, a Central Connecticut State University grad with ties to the city, had actually planned to attend the recognition event Tuesday but was unable.
“He couldn’t make it due to unforeseen circumstances,” Robles said. “Dr. Cardona’s wishes are that our kids stay creative, strong and doing their very best. He told us he’s here to support every student and educator.”
Tuesday also marked the kick-off of Pulaski’s new Homeroom Helpline. Teachers, para educators and tutors run this new program Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Students and parents can dial-in to get homework-related questions answered. Responding staff speak English, Spanish and Arabic to accommodate the diverse school community.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.