First day back

The familiar sight of yellow buses with smiling students crowded the Fredonia Central School parking lots Tuesday afternoon.

The first day of the school year is a magical time for staff and students alike.

Fredonia Superintendent Paul DiFonzo noted the first day went extremely well.

“The buses arrived on time in the morning, the building was clean, and the staff was out in the halls to greet the students,” he said. “There was a positive atmosphere all day.”

DiFonzo added the students were happy to see each other again.

“A lot of them see each other in the summer, but this is the time they all get reacquainted,” he said. “A lot of the students have been doing sports the last couple of weeks too.”

This overall feeling echoed throughout the surrounding community as school districts gear up for 2014-2015. For other area districts, today marks the first day of a new school year.

Superintendent of Dunkirk City Schools Gary Cerne said he is looking forward to seeing all the students again.

“The best part is seeing all the kids,” he said. “We had a full day of staff development and all systems are a go.”

Cerne will be in all the buildings making sure he talks to all the students before lunch.

“We are looking forward to pre-K this year,” he said. “Pre-K will start in Dunkirk City Schools; we will have two classes of 4 year olds in buildings 4, 5 and 7. It is exciting and really fun to see 4 year olds.”

Last year Fredonia hosted Dunkirk’s pre-K at the Wheelock School. That contract was not renewed this year.

According to Cerne, construction was on track throughout the summer. He said he is glad to see the buildings ready for the school year.

Cassadaga Valley Superintendent Charles Leichner is also excited to get started.

“We had a great in-service day,” he said. “The teachers are excited to get back. I am looking forward to meeting the students.”

Leichner is new to Cassadaga Valley this year, previously serving as superintendent in Forestville.

He will also be heading to see classes in the elementary school.

“We will have a nice and peaceful start,” he said. “We talked about this year and supporting the students.”

Silver Creek Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich can’t wait for another great school year.

“Today (Tuesday) we had our special meeting with Forestville,” he said. “Our guest speaker talked about classroom strategies and inspired all of the teachers.”

The opening day is a thrilling day for everyone at Silver Creek Central.

“The first day is all about getting the kids excited about learning and keeping them excited all year,” Ljiljanich said. “I meet and greet them as they come in. Each building has a meeting with the students in an assembly to start the year.”

Forestville Board of Education President Sylvester Cleary announced what the district is most looking forward to is the traditional ringing of the old school bell.

“Everyone is geared up,” he said. “We went to Silver Creek Central to hear a motivational speaker. He told us about management in the classroom with hard-to-reach students.”

“This will be an exciting year,” Cleary continued. “I will try to go to the elementary school and talk to as many of them as I can in the morning. I want to get them on track and tell them to do a little better this year. If everyone does a little better then the (level of) education will rise.”

Cleary explained now that the global economy is putting pressure on all students to achieve; there is more competition.

“This is about all of us upping our game,” he said. “We try to keep the excitement throughout the whole year. In the community, we are trying to get students to see what we have and promote who we are. We want them to understand they are part of it. School is not just about math, science, English or history, but citizenship too. Students will have input, grow and be supportive of their community.”

He hopes these efforts will get more legislators willing to visit the school.

“We need them to be a part of our school,” Cleary said. “It is a great thing for kids to see.”

“I always tell teachers we must look at the glass half full, that puts us almost at the top; if we see the glass half empty we are done before we start,” Cleary said about starting the school year. “So much of education is how we perceive it for them.”