Looking ahead to the new school year in Saugerties

The 2019-20 school year is just around the corner, with students in the Saugerties schools starting classes next  Wednesday, September 4. All students in all grades will have a morning half-day on Wednesday, save for seventh graders, who will report in the afternoon. 

New district superintendent and longtime educator Kirk Reinhardt is gearing up for his first day of school  in Saugerties. “I’m thrilled,” Reinhardt said. “You know what I like about the first day of school? It’s like the beginning of a sports season. Everybody’s undefeated, every teacher is teacher of the year, every student an honors student. It’s exciting.”

Some changes are afoot at the junior high/high school. Class meetings for students in eighth and ninth grades will be moved into the classrooms. “This change was created so we can speak to the students in a smaller environment regarding our Positive Behavioral Intervention System,” wrote principal Thomas Averill on the district website. “We feel it is important to continue to strive toward a positive school culture where all students social emotional needs are met as well as their academic needs. We are excited to continue this initiative and hope that it makes a difference for your child.”

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For the first time, all four elementary schools in the district are offering pre-kindergarten classes. A total of 96 children are able to participate. Cahill and Mt. Marion elementary schools will each have two pre-K classes for a total of 32 students, while 16 students will constitute a single class in both the Grant D. Morse and Charles M. Riccardi elementary schools.

Students of all ages should do their part to help the district help them, said Reinhardt. That includes speaking up. “I think the biggest thing that I always tell students is be an advocate for your own education,” said Reinhardt. “If something doesn’t seem right, ask a teacher.”

Reinhardt added that it was perfectly natural for students to find their academic interests have changed. 

“You might have left in the spring thinking, ‘I think I want to be a music person,’ but you come back at the end of the summer and you watched your dad do electrical work and you’re like, ‘Hey, wow, maybe I want to go into engineering.’ You want to try out for a club, or if you’re an elementary school kid and you hear about Science Olympiad for the first time, go to a meeting.”
He said the graduation rates and college-admissions experiences of students are higher for those involved in extracurricular activities. “Be involved,” urged Reinhardt. “Own your education.”

The new superintendent was previously the principal at Kingston High School, which has over 2000 students, as compared to the around 850 at Saugerties High. 

“I was always amazed that kids came back and they had grown and matured,” he said. “Next thing you know, they’re coming to you saying, ‘Oh, by the way I’m thinking about applying to this college.’” 

Reinhardt encouraged Saugerties students to talk to their parents as well as their teachers about school. “Keep your parents in the loop,” he advised. “I know no one wants to hear that, but let your parents know what’s going on. Let them know if you’re struggling in a class or you don’t like that sport any more.”

The parent-student relationship is most successful when it’s a two-way street. 

“If you’re a parent, be involved,” he said. “Reach out to the teacher if something doesn’t seem right, you know, because kids are going to come home with, ‘I never get homework.’ You know, that’s not true. Go find out. E-mail your teachers if you’re a parent and find out what’s going on, see what method the teacher uses. Communication is the key. Be involved, know what your kids are doing, talk to the teachers, build that relationship with the goal in mind, your student’s success.” 

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