Despite the warm weather, it has been a great start to the school year in Norwalk.
“Things are going well,” Norwalk Catholic School President Dennis Doughty said. “Our enrollent is up a little bit from last year, which is a good thing, espcially at a private school.
“Everybody is jumping in. Fortunately, we do have the air conditioners in our rooms which helps.”
Thanks to the PTO and some private donations, air conditioners were installed in every classroom last year.
“It was quite a process,” Doughty said. “Our PTO and some individuals made it happen.”
This isn’t the first rodeo for Doughty.
“It was my 43rd start and things went well,” he said with a laugh. “Everybody was ready.”
St. Paul held a meet-the-team night prior to the its football scrimmage against Edison and it took quite awhile to announce everybody. And that is a good thing.
“We have about 97-percent participation in extra-curriculars,” Doughty said. “That is wonderful for the school. Our kids get involved.
“Some parents say there are no kids in the stands, but they are all participatring in something. And some of them are in two things.
“We tell kids to get involved and they take it seriously.”
Doughty talked about a special event going on at the school.
“We have one special project going on now and it is kind of our theme right now,” he said.
The basis of the project is the book “Lead ... for God’s Sake!,” written by Todd Gongwer.
“We are having our students in grades seven to 12, staff and everybody on our board read the book and it will be our theme of the year,” Doughty said. “The author, Todd Gongwer, will be here Oct. 23 to talk to everybody, including the parents in the evening.
“We want all of our students to be leaders.”
Speaking of leaders, Norwalk City Schools Superintendent George Fisk said learning to be a leader starts early.
The LEGO Lab is up and running for second- and third-graders at Pleasant Elementary. It is part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum where children are using their abilities and skills to solve problems.
“Very nice start,” Fisk said. “Things went about as well as we planned.”
Talking about the LEGO Lab and STEM, Fisk said the business of learning really has changed over the years.
“There is just a lot more expected of students today than years gone by,” he said. “Kids hit the ground running in school today. Most kids have homework the first day. ... It’s work, work, work. Because of all the state standards that’s what we need to do.”
And it won’t stop there.
“We’re continuing to work on our STEM pathway. With the opening of our LEGO Land, it opens our STEM work from grades two through 12. We want to continue to improve and get better.”
How about the students at Maplehurst in kindergarten and first grade?
“With Maplehurst we are just focusing on computer literacy skills ... how to use the computer and its applications,” Fisk said. “When they get to second grade they are ready to go.”
Fisk also talked about the extra-curricular activities and how important they are to students.
“I think that is one of the beneifts of attending schools in Huron County,” he said. “For students who want to participate in extra-curriculars, there is a place for you. Just a lot more opportunities for students in schools our size. It’s a lot tougher in the big cities with bigger schools.”
As far as the weather goes, Norwalk High School is the only one in the district with air conditioning.
“Our teachers know how to handle the weather,” Fisk said. “They know when to take water breaks. ... They have been through this before.”
Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]