HANOVER — South Shore Tech school administrators reported a “little bit complicated, but normal” start to the school year during the region’s School Committee on Wednesday, Sept. 15.
Principal Mark Aubrey said there are challenges to be handled, but officials are working through them, including trying to handle traffic layouts to improve the time involved at the start and end of school days.
“We’re also working inside to keep the children as safe in learning as possible,” he said.
Some traditions are also returning, including the annual Ken Thayer Classic Car Show, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3. The Parent’s Association will host its fundraising craft fair from 9 a.m. To 3 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 16. Open House for grade eight students interested in possibly attending SST is being planned for Saturday, Nov. 6.
“School spirit has taken a hit during COVID,” Aubrey said. “We haven’t had fans at games, there hasn’t been a lot going on, so I’m going to focus this year on school culture and making sure that people are happy to be here and excited to be here.”
From a welcoming façade to ensuring that the school works in a way that makes both students and staff feel they belong and are valued.
Banners, a small business alumni Hall of Fame, a showcase of achievement – both sports and SkillsUSA trophies and awards — student-created murals in hallways are planned, as well as an outdoor fall dance with a harvest theme so that masks will not be an issue.
“We are forming an Equity Committee … having an equitable school culture for everybody involved,” Aubrey said. “This is an organization that’s going to talk about reality and education and promotion of equality throughout the school to make sure everybody’s voice is being heard.”
A recent day when the football and soccer teams joined the crowd to cheer on the volleyball team, was an example of that, said Aubrey, noting he has lauded the students for supporting each other.
Assistant Principal Sandra Baldner thanked the committee for a “school year that feels mostly normal.”
She reported that students and teachers alike are settling in well.
“It’s great to see students back in the building,” said Superintendent/Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey. “We were in school a lot last year, but it’s great to be back every single day — and under these very challenging circumstances, people are doing their best every day.”
The school’s window replacement project has been interrupted by supply chain delays, but any work to be done once materials are delivered will be done after school to avoid interfering with instruction at no added cost.
The estimate is that the project will take about 24 workdays to complete, Hickey noted, saying he is hopeful that work would begin by Sept. 30.
A walk-through of the building for the next slate of projects was expected to take place soon — that work includes roof replacement on the 1992 side of the building as well as beginning conversations about a targeted building addition, Hickey added.
“I would like to be in a position that, as we prepare the fiscal 2023 budget, we will have an educated estimate of costs for both of those projects so as to make estimates on the debt service,” he said. The district has a debt service approval behind them and now must begin the process of planning out the projects.
“Between now and December, there will be a lot of work to be done,” Hickey said. That includes going out to bid and hiring contractors in the spring for work to be done next summer.
In other business, the committee approved an interim public comment policy, being worked on by the policy subcommittee since 2020, provides the committee chairman with some guidelines on the public comment process, including time limits, according to Hickey.
Frank Molla was welcomed as Hanson’s new representative to the committee.