School Committee Chairman Bob Hayes presided over his last meeting on Wednesday, May12 — he opted not to run again after 18 years on the committee, representing Hanson. He served as chairman for 15 of those years.
“I think we have a great gathering here — it must be a budget meeting, I’m not sure,” said Superintendent of Schools Jeff Szymaniak, invoking a point of order before the meeting’s regular business began. “Today is a special occasion.”
School Committee member Fred Small kicked off the ceremonies with the presentation of a plaque, a W-H facemask, a proclamation from Gov. Charlie Baker (with which state Rep. Alyson Sullivan, R-Abington, assisted) and an American flag that had been flown over the Statehouse on April 27.
“Bob, it’s been a pleasure knowing you a good portion of my life … and to be involved and to serve with you on the School Committee for the past nine years,” Small said. “It’s truly been an honor and a privledge, and knowing the time, effort and amount of work that you’ve put into this committee, I know you’re going to sorely be missed.”
Hayes said his work on the committee was an “18-year team effort with many, many School Committee members that came and went.”
He also thanked selectmen and town administrators he has worked with over the years.
“They all came together at several times,” he said, noting budget negotiations. “All of this is how, from this brand new building 16 years ago … being built — everybody has played a part,” Hayes said, insisting he did nothing as an individual.
“We were not alone doing this,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s not about anybody in this room, it’s about everybody in this room. It’s about all of us.”
Szymaniak presented him with a certificate from the committee and his gavel as well as a gift.
Whitman Selectmen Vice Chairman Daniel Salvucci presented a proclamation on behalf of his board honoring Hayes and his contributions to the community. Fellow members Justin Evans and Randy LaMattina also attended the meeting.
“I know that you’re not going to just walk away, you’re going to get your hands into doing something for both communities,” Salvucci said, noting that he has known Hayes for about 30 years.
Sullivan, joined by state Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Pembroke, and state Sen. Mike Brady, D-Brockton, presented honors from the General Court.
“It’s great to be back,” Cutler said, mentioning that he and Sullivan calculated that the last time they had been in the WHRHS library was February 2020. “I’m sorry that it’s for this reason. Is there time to change this?”
Cutler said he could not imagine the W-H School Committee without Hayes.
“The breadth of commitment that you’ve given this community in both towns is incredible,” Cutler said before reading the resolution, which also honored his service as a youth sports coach. “In all the towns I represent, I can’t think of anyone whose done more for our schools than you have.”
“Thank you so much for everything you’ve done,” Sullivan said. “I know that you’re on the Hanson side of the W-H School District, but you have never been a stranger to reaching out and supporting the good cause here in W-H and we appreciate everything you do.”
She noted that Hayes’ grandchildren were among family members in attendance and suggested that, perhaps one of them would fill his shoes one day.
Brady, who also served on a school committee, also thanked Hayes for his service.
In other business, the School Committee said principal vacancies at Indian Head and Whitman Middle schools were filled, Szymaniak announced.
Paul DuPrey, currently principal at Remmington Middle School in Franklin, was chosen as principal WMS, and Dr. Joel Jocelyn, of Brockton, is currently principal of Franklin Elementary School in Newton, and will take the helm at Indian Head.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools George Ferro highlighted some of the summer programs being offered at W-H this year.
“All of them will center around regression and help with students in math and English language arts,” Ferro said. “They will look different in some schools.”
All summer programs at Duval Indian Head will have free six-week, home-based programs offering help for students who need it, funded by grants. All summer programs are based on end-of-year assessments and students will be invited to join the program they require. Conley’s traditional Camp Conley with daily enrichment in math and ELA built in. The Conley program will carry a fee, but the district is seeking summer enrichment grant money to help fund the Conley program and keep costs low.
Middle Schools will also be offering at-home help programs based on assessment results.
Aside from traditional sports camps, WHRHS Principal Dr. Christopher Jones said the regular summer enrichment program will be expanded by 30 seats and will address regression. Summer school will also be offered as well as the academic 3-D and science camps.
The extended school year program at the high school for special education students will also be offered as usual.
The School Committee voted to approve school improvement plans for next year.