By: Sharon Aron Baron
The City of Parkland held their annual Mayor’s Back to School Breakfast led by Mayor Christine Hunschofsky where area principals met and shared the exciting things they are preparing for the new school year.
Hunschofsky said the breakfast is a great opportunity for the commission to meet with the principals, members of the Parkland Education Advisory Board and representatives from the various PTAs, PTOs and PTSAs before the school year starts.
“One of the things that makes Parkland so special is the dedicated administration, staff, teachers and volunteers at all the Broward County schools and private schools in Parkland who make such a difference in the lives of our students,” she said. “We are fortunate to have so many special people in our community who work hard to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Held on Tuesday at the Parkland Recreational and Enrichment Center, the event was attended by Broward County School Board Member Abby Freedman, Vice Mayor Stacy Kagan, Commissioners Bob Mayersohn and Grace Solomon, local PTA and PTO liaisons, and Parkland’s BSO Captain Jan Jordan.
Heron Heights Elementary School Principal Kenneth King said that this year’s theme is “Teaching in Peace and Harmony” and said they would also be joining the Broward County Debate Initiative for the 4th and 5th graders. He said that they were very glad to be a part of the district’s $277,000 robotics grant.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Principal Ty Thompson said that they already have 3,240 students enrolled this year and may be at the 3,300 mark by the end of the week.
“We’re running out of room, but we’ll figure out a way just like all of the other Parkland schools.”
Thompson said he was proud to be an A school and said they are moving to a new schedule this year: a 4 x 4 AB block, one of the last groups of high schools to get on board. He said that the staff is excited about the new schedules. Example here. He said that they want to also continue building meaningful and positive relationships with the kids “because we know how important that is. It’s not just about coming in and learning material, it’s about being a student of your students.”
He reminded everyone that football is kicking off on Friday with a pre-season game and that Homecoming will be early this year on September 9. Staff will also be watching the movie “Listen, it only takes a moment” which tells the story of nearly every high school in this country where students hide their pain, friends ignore each other’s cries for help, and adults are too overwhelmed to stop and listen. On November 2, they will be showing it on campus as well as an evening event open to the community were the director of the film will make an appearance.
Trailer for “Listen, it only takes a moment”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas open house is set for August 29.
Principal Seltzer at Riverglades Elementary School had someone come and speak on her behalf and said that first and third grade teachers are currently moving into their new buildings. They are also planning to hold a Meet & Greet this Friday. The school will be having several new programs: Three new ESE, including integrated and specialized, and a duel enrollment program for K1. The theme this year is “We’re Growing and Learning Together.”
Principal Matthew Bianchi from Westglades Middle School said that this year they have 1,746 students compared to 1,711 last year. He said that they had a great year based on the test scores that came in, and had the “most points for ‘A’ for a middle school in town”.
“If you look statewide, we’re right around number 10 score-wise, but if you look at things and start breaking down the numbers, I think we’re probably really in the top 5,” he said.
Last year the school added the Finance Academy, Pre-Engineering and Debate Club, and he thinks, with those additions, Westglades Middle is the best school in the state.
Westglades just held their orientation called Camp Wolf Pack which was a way to get the kids – whether they were new to the area developments or they were new 6th graders, comfortable with the environment so they weren’t nervous on the first day of school. Bianchi said that 333 students registered, however, 370 showed up. They gave them walking tours of the campus and information on what resources to use to be successful in middle school.
This Friday is schedule pickup and Bianchi said they are doing this a bit differently than they did from previous years.
“Last year, I won’t say it was kind of a mess, but it was kinda of…crowded. We’re trying to correct that so we’re having different times for the parents to pick up their schedules.”
From 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. is 8th Grade
From 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. is 7th Grade
From 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. is 6th Grade
Open house for 6th grade will be on August 31, and 7th and 8th grade will be on September 7.
Bianchi said this year’s theme is “Education is a Treasure” Bianchi said he read the book “Teach like a Pirate” which he said is about teaching with passion and enthusiasm as well as creating a rapport with your students.
Principal Charles McCanna is new at Park Trails Elementary School and said this year they will be facilitating the use of Alexa Echo Dot technology, thanks to an idea from the PTA. They will ask the teachers to create lessons around the echo dot.
“It’s a brand new technology that’s really easy to use, pretty much if you can speak, you can use it.”
This year’s theme is “Change the World with Kindness.”
“Kindness is hard,” he said, “It’s really easy to lash out at someone, but to be patient with someone, and to be kind to them, is a really difficult thing to do but that’s what strong intelligent people can do.
Kelly Gonzalas, the Development Director with Mary Help of Christians Catholic School spoke about the PreK through 8th grade private school located in Parkland. She introduced their new pastor, Father Patrick Naughton and announced their new Principal, Dr. Alexandra Fernandez as well as spoke about the groundbreaking for their new student parish center. The school has a 99 percent retention of students and teachers and has recently added a Spanish Facebook page.
They are holding Meet & Greets for the families on Friday, and they are starting a new digital scanning dismissal system and warned “…so if you hear a lot of horn honking next week.” But assured the parents would get used to it as it will make a safer environment for both the children and for the parents.