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Forestville to continue school tradition

FORESTVILLE — Forestville’s unique first two days of school for the 2020-21 year seemed to be a success for all involved.

The school has chosen a different model than other schools in the area — a hybrid model that groups students into two groups, A and B. Tuesday was the first day for group B students, and on Thursday group A will have their first day.

“We had a wonderful first day with students. It is really rewarding to see their shining faces back in our hallways and classrooms,” said Superintendent Renee Garrett. “They have grown so much over the last few months since we last saw them. It was nice to see such a positive reaction from our parents when they dropped their children off this morning.”

Garrett explained that though this year will be different than past years, the schools are still doing their best to keep up with their usual traditions and ceremonies. Usually, every year on the first day, the middle and high schools have a bell ringing ceremony.

This is where all the students and staff gather on the front lawn and hear words of wisdom and inspiration from the middle and high school principal, the school board president, the Class of 2021 president and the superintendent. The ceremony also includes a playing of the school alma mater by the band while the chorus sings along. Then the Class of 2021 officers ring the bell to usher in the new year.

“This tradition is over 150 years old. We will be holding our annual bell ringing ceremony, we will just be doing it a little differently,” Garrett said. “We have recorded the messages from each person, we have our music teachers playing the alma mater and we will have the bell ringing all pre-recorded so students can listen on Thursday and Friday. … I have to say, the creativity and courage our school system has demonstrated is truly inspiring.”

Garrett said opening school during a pandemic has brought out the best in everyone, including the administrative team, which has really risen to the occasion. School board members have been even more supportive of the school system. “They are all offering to help in so many ways,” she said. “Our students are excited to be back to school because we are excited to be back to school.”

During the next few days and couple of weeks, the schools will be working on refining its reopening plan.

“On Tuesday, we debriefed as an administrative team and on Wednesday we met with teachers to gather their feedback about the first day,” Garrett said. “We are always learning and growing through these new times. It’s been great overall to see our students back in school.”

She added: “On Tuesday, we had 45 minutes notice that we needed to be on a webex call with the NYS Department of Health. We learned about the ‘dashboard’ that Governor Cuomo has been referring to. This will provide our parents with greater communication and transparency in relation to any test positive cases of COVID-19. Thankfully, at this time, we have zero test positive cases.”

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