Board of Education Welcomes New School Year

The Pawling Board of Education convened on Monday September 18 at Pawling High School for their first meeting since students returned for the 2017 – 2018 school year. Items on the agenda included the presentation of the BOCES Distinguished Student Award and presentations from Principals of the Elementary and High Schools and the Athletic Director.

            The BOCES Distinguished Student Award was presented to PHS Senior Amanda Scoca. Ms. Scoca made history last April by finishing first at the SkillsUSA culinary competition in Syracuse, NY, becoming the first junior from Dutchess County BOCES to earn that honor. That victory granted her an opportunity to attend the national competition in Louisville, KY, last June. Instructor Dan Tierney and Career and Technical Institute Principal Mitchell Shron presented the award, given to a student who demonstrates exemplary character, achievement, and work ethic.

            In other business, the Board heard a presentation from Dr. Debra Kirkhus, Principal of Pawling Elementary School. Dr. Kirkhus informed Board members that the school year started off smoothly, with 386 students enrolled. New to the curriculum this year is a program that will give fourth graders the option to take lessons with a musical instrument. Students will be able to choose from Baritone Horn, Trombone, Trumpet, Clarinet, or Flute, and receive instruction on Friday afternoons. Dr. Kirkhus also described the success of the Popsicles and Playground event, which gave students, parents, and teachers a chance to meet and become familiar with the school building and grounds before the coming school year.

            Next, Pawling High School (PHS) Principal Helen Callan informed the Board about a number of new programs and upcoming events. Ms. Callan praised the diligence of school counselors for a successful update of the master schedule, which addressed many student concerns. This scheduling also accommodated new sequences as part of Project Lead The Way, which aims to advance a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) based curriculum. New classes to be offered through Project Lead The Way are computer science and engineering. Also new this year is AP computer science principles, as well as videography, financial literacy, and a family and consumer science course.

            Principal Callan reported on a school-wide assembly held at the high school on Friday, September 8, entitled “Breaking the Cycle,” which featured three guest speakers who shared life experiences and stressed positive decision making, as well as self respect and respect for others. Following the assembly, 265 students were given a survey for feedback. Overall, the assembly was rated 7 out of 10 by 229 students. Principal Callan also informed the Board of the success of Pawling High School’s Open House on Thursday, September 14. The event resulted in an excellent turnout by parents who attended to meet teachers and faculty.

            As the new school year moves forward, Principal Callan also outlined several upcoming events. On Tuesday September 19, High School Band Director Brian Zaneck will be accompanying the school band and jazz ensembles to the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, CT, to work with members of the UConn Huskies marching band. On Tuesday, September 26, at 6:00 p.m., PHS will host a Financial Aid Night for parents of juniors and seniors who wish to learn more information about college tuition assistance. On Thursday, September 28, at 8:30 a.m., there will be a Senior Parent Breakfast Meeting in the PHS library, which will provide an overview for the college application process.


Pawling High School Athletic Director John Bellucci also delivered a report on the progress of the district’s athletic teams this season.

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