‘Everybody comes in with a clean slate’

Students in the Oswego City School District, like those above at Charles E. Riley Elementary School, return today to classes from summer vacation.

OCSD leaders reflect, prepare for new challenges and opportunities

OSWEGO — If there’s a little magic in the air this week — if the morning chill is just a bit more chilly — it’s likely you’re feeling the ripple effects of the first day of school.

Today, Wednesday, Sept. 4, the Oswego City School District (OCSD) will open its 2019-2020 year and district leaders say there’s unlimited promise sparking around each corner of each school building and they’re “thrilled” to get down to business on the upcoming semesters.

“The first day of school is the quintessential new beginning that has been a shared experience for generations,” said Oswego City School District Board of Education President Heather DelConte. “Each new school year embodies fresh opportunities and a chance for students, teachers, administration and families to decide for themselves who they want to be and what they want to contribute to the whole.”

Wednesday will commence school days for OCSD students in grades Kindergarten through 8th with the annual “Freshman First” day at Oswego High School. Freshman First day provides an opportunity for new Buccaneers to get accustomed to their new environs in a de-stressed manner, according to officials.

Tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 5, grades 10 through 12 will join the rest of their classmates and the school year will kick off in earnest.

The rest of September will be filled with open houses, Home and School Association Meetings and book fairs at several elementary schools. OHS College Kick-off Financial Aid night will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 17 according to the district calendar, available online at www.oswego.org.

Another fall favorite, the Marching Bucs Pageant of Champions, will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21.

In his 36 years as an educator, OCSD Superintendent Dr. Dean Goewey says whether as a teacher, principal or now as leader of the district, he still gets excited about the “fresh start” the autumn promises.

“Everybody comes in with a clean slate,” Goewey said. “The teachers are ready to teach, the students come in ready to learn and our year-round staff has been working all summer to make our buildings and grounds look great.”

One of the most earth-shaking — literally — developments around the district this year will be the commencement of the district’s $63.1 million capital project approved by voters in December 2018.

The capital project, touted by district leaders as consisting mainly of desperately needed repairs and improvements, is slated to take more than a decade to fully complete, but the first signs of progress will soon be evident.

“Early in the spring, as soon as the snow breaks, major construction will be very visible on the district’s main campus and Oswego Middle School athletic fields,” Goewey said.

The district is also “continuing to put an emphasis on safety and security” in its buildings, Goewey said. All schools now use single points of entry and “Raptor screening system” technology. Raptor performs an immediate background check on all visitors requesting access to district buildings.

“Unauthorized persons will not be permitted in school buildings or on school grounds,” a release from the district said. “School administrators and school employees are authorized to take appropriate action to prevent such individuals from entering the building and from loitering on school grounds.”

Looking forward to the year ahead, DelConte said a successful 2019-2020 will “require everyone, regardless of their place in the system, to consciously decide to be a blessing inside their circle of influence,” and the district is looking for “courageous leaders and everyday heroes.”

“We greatly appreciate and rely on administrators who can balance the needs of the entire system with those of individual students and staff,” she said. “Teachers who teach from a place of deep passion despite long hours and unpredictable challenges; staff and coaches who, above all other goals, are committed to positively motivating the young people they encounter; students who are ready to selflessly advocate for their peers and role models respect in the face of external pressures and families who are willing to constitute a supportive village for our entire school community.”

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