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Due to the January 4 Nor’easter, the Newtown High School auditorium renovation’s planned Gala Concert has been postponed from Friday, January 5, to Monday, January 8.
The concert was planned as a celebratory unveiling of the newly renovated space. A ribbon cutting ceremony is set for 6:45 pm, with a concert following at 7 pm.
Along with approving a new special for Reed Intermediate School, the Board of Education heard an update on the NHS auditorium renovation project at its meeting on January 2. At the time, the gala concert was still scheduled for January 5.
At Tuesday’s meeting Newtown Public Schools Director of Visual and Performing Arts Michelle Hiscavich said people have asked her all year if the auditorium will be ready.
“It is going to be January 5 — very exciting,” said Ms Hiscavich, adding that the last details in the auditorium were being “polished” ahead of the planned gala opening for the space.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue thanked Ms Hiscavich for her efforts with the auditorium renovation project, including monitoring items on the final punch list.
Some items remained to be finalized before the opening, according to Ms Hiscavich. Some painting finishes were set to be done on January 3 and lighting was being finished as of January 2.
“Our Newtown High School performing arts center is going to be a smash hit,” said Ms Hiscavich, adding that Director of Facilities Gino Faiella did a lot of work on the project.
The Gala Concert, according to Ms Hiscavich at the meeting, will feature NHS musicians from the school’s composers class, theater students, band students, and chorus students. Information about NHS music programs will also be shared along with information about how the newly renovated auditorium will benefit students.
“I look forward to seeing you all,” Ms Hiscavich said. “… Pull out your black tie and tails, and your sparkles and your bling.”
During the NHS student representative report, NHS senior Talia Hankin shared that everyone at the high school is excited for the Gala Concert, which will be open to the public. Talia also said students are excited to have the space for concerts, school productions, and classes for years to come.
Work on the NHS auditorium renovation began in mid-February of 2017. The $3.6 million project also included a second phase of construction, approved by voters at referendum in April 2017 for an additional $750,000.
A Pilot Program For Reed
Later in the meeting, the school board approved an Integrated STEM Pilot program for fifth and sixth grade students at Reed Intermediate School.
The program was originally presented at the school board’s meeting on December 19 by Reed Math/Science Specialist Jessica Fonovic, Principal Anne Uberti, and Assistant Principal Jill Bontatibus-Beaudry. Ms Uberti said it was Ms Fonovic’s idea to add a science special to the special class rotation at Reed.
“We realized we could fit it in,” said Ms Uberti at the December 19 meeting, “so we did some research.”
The pilot will expand on the science curriculum at the school and will provide opportunities to explore topics in the framework of the special, according to Ms Uberti.
“We would be hoping to write this curriculum next summer, and then have a course in place for the fall 2018,” Ms Uberti added.
Board member Dan Delia said he thinks the new program is “wonderful.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing the genuine learning of the children,” said Mr Delia.
According to Ms Uberti, a two-classroom space will be utilized for the pilot. One of the school’s computer labs will be moved to one room and the other room would be used for tables for activities and projects, such as a 3-D printer.
Board member Andrew Clure also said he is thrilled about the pilot.
“Thank you for bringing this forward,” he said.
Sharing her support for the pilot being added as a special without altering the school’s schedule “all that much,” board Vice Chair Rebekah Harriman-Stites asked how the special would work in the current special rotation.
Ms Uberti explained time for the special would be used from a “classroom” period that is currently held once in the school’s six-day cycle. Social and emotional learning lessons typically taught during the “classroom” period will be integrated and expanded into other aspects of lessons, according to Ms Uberti.
“Obviously we are not going to do anything that would take away from our commitment to social/emotional learning, but it is going to be different,” said Ms Uberti.
The pilot program passed unanimously by the board at its January 2 meeting. Board Secretary Dan Cruson, Jr, and member Debbie Leidlein were not present for the vote.
Cold Weather Closes Head O’ Meadow
During her report, Dr Rodrigue told the school board the new year began with a pipe bursting in a well chamber of the boiler room at Head O’ Meadow Elementary School on January 2.
“This meant there was no pressure, due to freezing,” said Dr Rodrigue. “This prompted, as you know, an unexpected school delay then finally moving into a cancellation.”
The pipe was worked on throughout the day, according to Dr Rodrigue, and school resumed at the school on January 3.
“It is only going to get colder, but hopefully this is all fixed and we are moving forward,” said Dr Rodrigue.