When it comes to kicking off the school year, the teachers of Regional School District 17 pull out all the stops.
The district’s convocation, which includes life-size, live-action versions of Hungry Hungry Hippos, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and other childhood favorites, is an opportunity for teachers and staff from all buildings to come together, mix, mingle, and get the academic year off to an upbeat, productive start.
“We have a great energy,” says Haddam-Killingworth Middle School teacher and building representative Ruth Masci. “We know that relationships make all the difference in education, and that’s what today is all about.”
Veteran teacher Amy Koepke, who went through Haddam-Killingworth schools and has been teaching in Region 17 for 30 years, enjoys meeting new teachers, reconnecting with colleagues, and seeing everyone from school nurses and custodial staff to paraprofessionals.
“This is all of us coming together for our students,” she says, adding, “Our public school system is the best example of two towns working together, even in down times. It’s really amazing to be a part of it.”
Fun in the sun
Convocation was held in the courtyard of Haddam-Killingworth High School, where a DJ shook the block and invited teachers to enjoy food, beverages, and information booths on everything from Haddam Killingworth Education Association (HKEA) membership to discounts from NEA. HKEA President Robin Duffield welcomed both new and returning teachers, many of whom wore their school colors.
“This is a very fun event, and it gets our school year off to the right start,” Duffield says.
Koepke recalls convocations past that were much less inspired.
“We used to sit and listen to guest speakers who weren’t part of the education community,” she says, noting that in recent years, convocation has turned into a much more interactive and meaningful gathering. “I hopped out of bed this morning, I was so excited to come out and see everyone. I made sure to put on comfortable shoes so that I could participate in everything!”
Friendly competitions and team-building activities, held outdoors as well as in the school’s gym and indoor pool, included an inflatable jousting match, a swim meet with giant pool floats, and a tricycle relay with participants wearing goggles that distort vision and balance.
Haddam-Killingworth schools welcomed students back on Wednesday, August 28.