It’s once again time for kids across Central New York to start getting ready to head back to school. Both Liverpool and North Syracuse students head back Thursday, Sept. 4. Both districts had some changes in store for students and staff; read on to find out what’s new.
Liverpool introduces universal breakfast
Starting this year, every student in the Liverpool Central School District will have access to free breakfast on school grounds, regardless of income.
Food and Nutrition Services Director Carrie Bonacci said the district began offering universal breakfast at Chestnut Hill Elementary in 2004 with the help of a grant from the Nutrition Consortium of New York State, and it proved so successful that she wanted to expand the program districtwide.
“We did it for a year, and we decided to keep going because we saw it had such a positive effect at that school,” Bonacci said. “Over the next couple of years, we eased it into the elementary schools a couple of schools at a time. I believe they were all up and running by 2007.”
Middle schools were added last year. Now the program is available to all students K through 12.
Bonacci said the program will provide a definite benefit to student learning.
“When they come to school they’re hungry, and you know as well as I do — the stats show that children can’t learn if they’re hungry,” she said.
While the program is particularly beneficial to kids whose families are short on food due to adverse economic circumstances— close to 37 percent of the district’s students receive free or reduced lunch — Bonacci pointed out that there are a number of reasons kids might not eat breakfast before coming to school.
“It’s not just because of lower economic status,” she said. “Kids get up in the morning and they don’t feel like eating right away. Or they don’t have time — especially with the middle school and high school kids, they’re too busy getting ready.”
The universal breakfast program — the only one in Central New York outside the city of Syracuse —will provide kids with a healthy meal at school, which studies show improves overall academic performance.
“We have evidence now, having done it in the elementary schools, it helps students throughout the day,” Bonacci said. “There are fewer visits to the nurse, less tardiness. I’ve always been an advocate for universal meals. It’s a benefit to all. It’s a win-win for the children and the district.”
In addition to the offerings in the cafeteria, Bonacci said she’s looking to add vending machines at the high school level that will allow kids to enter their PIN number and get a complete breakfast. A similar program is in place in the Rochester city schools.
Bonacci encouraged parents to utilize the program.
“I really want to emphasize to parents that this is a great thing to take advantage of. I can’t stress that enough,” she said. “In this economy, to be able to come in and have breakfast and not worry about it at home is a great relief for parents. It’s a wonderful benefit to be able to do this.”
Google Apps to help Liverpool students
In addition, Liverpool’s technology department is introducing Google Apps for Education in classrooms districtwide.
Google Apps for Education is a suite of free, customizable tools that will allow students and faculty to work more effectively together. Students with an account will have access to school-related documents, spreadsheets and presentation from any device with internet access.
All district students will be assigned an account, which will allow them access to email and site content. Students will each receive an @mylcsd.org email account; those under 13 will only be allowed to email within the district.
North Syracuse kindergarteners utilize new writing programs
The North Syracuse Central School District adopted a full-day kindergarten program in the 2013-14 school year. Now, the district’s kindergarten students will be able to take advantage of a new program that teaches handwriting.
Handwriting without Tears provides developmentally appropriate tools and strategies for teachers to teach handwriting. The teaching engages students, with music, movement, fine motor activities and child friendly language.
The program can also be used at home. For more information, ask your child’s teacher.
At the higher levels, students will start using the Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop, which gives them opportunities to write a variety of genres to help foster stronger writing skills. The workshop allows teachers to meet the needs of the students by differentiating their instruction and gearing instruction.
The workshop’s 10- to 15-minute mini-lessons allow teachers to provide direct instruction to students using either examples from literature or the teacher’s own writing. Students also participate in both independent and guided writing exercises.
New turf field available
The turf replacement at Cicero-North Syracuse High School is nearly complete.
Last October, voters in North Syracuse approved a $2 million referendum to make repairs to the Michael J. Bragman Athletic Complex at C-NS, as well as security upgrades at the same building. The project, which will have no local tax impact, cost a total of $2,020,000. The local share of $302,000 will come out of the district’s C-NS Athletic Complex Reserve Fund, which was approved by district voters on Oct. 14, 1998, according to Assistant Superintendent for Management Donald Keegan. The reserve was funded by an exclusive vending contract with Coca-Cola and can only be used for the purpose of replacing or repairing the turf field.
District officials expect to be finished with the project by the end of September. Keep an eye on future issues of the Star-Review for more information.
For more information about what’s new in your district, visit liverpool.k12.ny.us or nscsd.org.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.