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Skaneateles begins new school year with enthusiasm

New Waterman Principal Gary Gerst got down to eye level and greeted students as they got off the buses for the first day of school.  “How are you doing?!”  he asked enthusiastically, asking for high fives.

New Waterman Principal Gary Gerst got down to eye level and greeted students as they got off the buses for the first day of school. “How are you doing?!” he asked enthusiastically, asking for high fives. Lori Ruhlman

— Dreyfuss, who is beginning his seventh year on the board and his third as board president, said the district is lucky to have Pastel as interim superintendent. “I think you’ve all noticed the energy and enthusiasm she brings,” he said as he turned the podium over to her.

Pastel told staff she is excited to be in Skaneateles. “Don’t be surprised when I stop in your classrooms,” she said. “It is very important to me to stay grounded with you and with children.”

She praised the condition of the buildings and grounds, from the green lawns to the shiny floors.

She said that as she has gotten to know the district in these recent months, she has been impressed with what she has seen. She urged people to refer to the district calendar, which is full of everything from dates to policies.

“I’ve learned a lot about the district from the calendar,” said Pastel, who also has been busy meeting with as many teachers, staff members, community members and parents as possible.

She marveled at the district’s Commencement Expectations, set many years ago by the District Planning Team. “You’ve done a great job of being ahead of the curve. We are in really good shape,” she said. She urged staff to refer often to those expectations when making decisions. “Ask ourselves ‘does this decision advance our students toward the Commencement Expectations?’”

Commencement expectations outline skills all students should acquire, so that upon graduation each student is: An Effective Communicator; An Effective Goal Achiever; A Critical & Creative Thinker; A Collaborative Contributor and A Quality Producer.

While facing new state and national requirements, Pastel stressed that everyone will work together. “We will build this together,” she said. “We are in this together.”

In a moving tribute, she shared one of her favorite images on the big screen at the front of the auditorium. It was a work of art that “spoke to her” years ago. It was an image of a school bus, with young children looking out the back window while others waited in line to climb aboard — looking serious and a bit apprehensive.

Then she shared a video of the Class of 2012 jumping into Skaneateles Lake after commencement exercises.

“What happens in those 13 years in between?” she asked. “You. You happen — and that’s fantastic.”

Lori Ruhlman is the Skaneateles CSD public information officer.

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