Lyme-Old Lyme's school year kicked off today and there were a lot of new faces on the bus and a few in the classrooms, too.
Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School welcomed three new staff members: Bob Hibson, who is the library media specialist; choral director Laura Gladd, who is a graduate of Lyme-Old Lyme High School; and a new instructional assistant.
Lyme Consolidated School also welcomed an unexpectedly high number of new students this year.
"We have 189 students, 35 new kindergarten students and 30 new students outside of kindergarten," said Lyme Consolidated School Principal James Cavalieri. "We have two second grades this year. It's nice because it takes some of the pressure of size off Mile Creek and Center School and our building is pretty much full to capacity."
Old Lyme Center School accepted its final class of third graders today, as the school is gradually being transitioned into a pre-K school and will ultimately become the new home for central office. The transition will have no impact on students, said principal Ellen Tyler, although she said she would miss having the third-graders around next year.
"Change is coming but not for the kids," said Tyler, who described the first day back this year as "smooth sailing."
Districtwide, all the schools are adopting the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and Math. Tyler and Cavalieri are both pretty excited about the math program, which they say incorporates a variety of teaching techniques and will give children a better understanding of how math is used in the real world.
The Core standards are driving curriculum changes in every subject in Middle School, said Principal Christopher Pomroy. At the Middle School and High School level, schools are also developing student success plans which are designed to give students more individualized attention in core subjects.
Teachers got a few new back to school items to play with this year. Each teacher now has a laptop. Pomroy said the changing job requirements for teachers today has really made portable computers a necessity. There are also new smart boards in many of the classrooms across the school district too.
The biggest new development, of course, is the ongoing construction of a new Lyme-Old Lyme High School and that's progressing nicely. The construction project is 80 percent completed at this point and is on track to be finished by the end of the school year.
"We're in a great place with the construction," said School District Superintendent Ian Neviaser. "Our programs were not impacted by the construction. Everything was ready to go for the start of the school year. Everything is up and runnning."