On Tuesday, Old Greenwich School students and parents participated in what is now a tradition on orientation day. Greenwich Schools first day for students is Wednesday, Sept 1.
Back when Principal Jen Bencivengo was interim principal, she and her assistant principal at the time, invited new students to gather on the plaza where they read aloud their favorite children’s books – many with the theme of first day of school jitters.
In the process Bencivengo introduced the newcomers to the school mascot Mack the Dolphin and welcomed them individually to the community.
This year, Bencivengo and assistant principal Caitlin Bertram (formerly Ms Keane) welcomed four new Greenwich Public School coordinators to read to the eager students, including some of the 120 new dolphins!
The four new coordinators are Dr. Benjamin Markus, the new Interim Coordinator for K-8 English Language Arts; Tara O’Neill Fogel, the new Coordinator for K-8 Science; Michael Reid, the new district Coordinator for K-8 Mathematics; and Stacey Heiligenthaler, the interim new Interim Chief Pupil Personnel Services Officer.
Michael Reid, who read the book Circle, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, said he loved coming to Old Greenwich School, especially because he went there himself as a child.
Dressed in a white lab coat, Tara O’Neill Fogel read Dinosaur Lady by Linda Skeers.
Other highlights of the event included an appearance by Mack the Dolphin and a stop from an ice cream truck, which was organized by the PTA.
After the event Dr. Markus and Ms Fogel reflected on the experience.
“The opportunity to be in a district as diverse and rich with resources and people – it’s outstanding,” Dr. Markus said. “The people here are the greatest resource. Just to be involved in that work and that growth is outstanding.”
“The community feel of this event says it all,” Ms O’Neill Fogel said. “The kids want to be here before the first day of school. They’re here for more than the ice cream. They’re here for the community and the involvement and to be around their friends. And all the parents who came made it really nice too.”
The PTA co-presidents Whitney O’Connor and Erica Jacoby said that despite the pandemic not being over, they were optimistic.
“Last year was filled with uncertainty and we were a little apprehensive,” said O’Connor. “This year we’re much more hopeful.”
“This year we’re very excited. We feel much more confident,” Jacoby said.