Summer vacation came to an end for teachers and students in the Londonderry School District on Tuesday, Aug. 27, with local schools beginning the 2013-14 academic year. According to School Superintendent Nathan Greenberg, preliminary numbers for the 2013/2014 school year enrollment are above projections but below total enrollment figures from last year.
“As of Aug. 26, North School has 451 students this year with a projected enrollment of 447; South School is 476 with a projection of 453; Matthew Thornton is 575 with a projection of 559; Moose Hill Kindergarten is 337, with 241 being kindergarten students and 96 LEEP (Londonderry Early Education Program) students, and a projection of 236; Londonderry Middle School has 1,089, with a projection of 1,075; and Londonderry High School has 1,641, with a projection of 1,581,” Greenberg said.
He noted that the high school numbers include 60 students from Hooksett but do not include 21 special needs students who attend out-of-district programs, for a total enrollment of 4,590 students in the district. “Last year we had 4,635 students,” Greenberg said.
Orientations were held to welcome new students. At Londonderry Middle School, students entering the sixth grade and their parents were treated to a tour of the school and information sessions Monday, with information ranging from when and where to pick up students to the school’s cell phone policy.
“Students are allowed to use their cell phones until school starts and then they must be shut off until the end of the school day,” LMS Principal Richard Zacchilli informed parents at a meeting in the school cafeteria.
At the high school, orientation for incoming freshmen was held Monday morning to acquaint the new students with the building, their schedules and the locations that they need to know. Of that orientation session, LHS Principal Jason parent said, “This is really a great day to acclimate them to the building and the campus. The building is basically theirs for the morning. There are no other students, just Student Council who are helping show the new students around.”
Parent said that the new students were able to meet their teachers at 10-minute classes. He noted that 60 of the new students this year are from the Hooksett School District. At Matthew Thornton Elementary School, teacher Kate Dolan met with parents of incoming first graders Monday and showed them where their children would be sitting and how to handle lunches brought from home.
“We have students with allergies to peanuts and other nuts so for snack time and others in class food-consuming occasions, we ask that no peanut or nut products be used,” Dolan said. “In the cafeteria, however, there is a section so that children can have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but in the class, we can’t allow it in order to respect the needs of children with those allergies.”
Dolan said that after being a teacher in Londonderry for many years, the children are still unique each year. Also at Matthew Thornton, new principal Sharon Putney greeted the students as they arrived Tuesday morning. That tradition, created by former principal Carol Mack, who retired this year, will continue.
“One of the things I said to the new children at orientation was that I was new too, and I asked if they would help me and they said that they would,” Putney said. North Elementary School Principal Mary Coltin said the air is always filled with excitement for teachers and students on the first day of school. The school held one open house for students and parents together, and will host a second one Sept. 26, when the students can show their parents where they’re sitting and the routine they go through.
“I think it helps put any fears the parents may have aside as their children show how they are adapting to school,” Putney said. Coltin said North students include two who will be calling her “Grammie.” At South Elementary School, Principal Linda Boyd said Cynthia Robinson will be artist in residence this year to focus on the ecological aspect of art. That program begins Sept. 16.
“With the older kids she will work with them on observing nature and the students will be making nature notebooks and maybe make some temporary art, where they build something small from nature,” she said.
Londonderry’s youngest students headed to Moose Hill School for orientation Tuesday, and parents rode into school with their children on the bus and had a first day one-hour session.
“Everything was awesome with the students and the parents, who both got to meet the teachers and they got to see their classrooms. The staff and the students are excited to get started on a brand new year,” Kindergarten Coordinator Bonnie Breithaupt said.