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Students (and parents) gather for start of school


Diane Archibalo teared up as her kindergartner, Noah, 5, led her to his desk. She had to admit, she was more nervous than he was.

“He’s more excited than I am,” Archibalo said. “He’s going to make new friends, but I’m going to be alone without him.”

Parents escorted their younger children to Freeport elementary schools for the first day of classes on Tuesday. Fifth- and sixth-graders at Caroline G. Atkinson Intermediate School, meanwhile, stood in two lines in front of the school, waiting to enter.

Lennys and George Zayas hung around the back of the sixth-grade line, waiting for their son Jorel, 11, to head inside.

“I’m always nervous,” Lennys admitted. “Jorel was a little nervous yesterday, too. I hope the love for school that he found last year continues this year.”

As a parent of a fourth-grader, Natia Burl-Parent said that she, too, was nervous, especially because she wanted her daughter, Nyla Burrowes, 9, to do well in school.

“Nyla’s shooting for honor roll this year,” Burl-Parent said. “I think she’s going to do good.”

“I feel good,” Nyla said. “I just want to make sure I learn how to do my work as a fourth-grader, because the work is hard.”

This year, the Freeport Public School district’s theme is “Be the Change,” a theme inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday.

“We’re super-excited to welcome all our students and family for a hopeful, bright, wonderful, happy school year,” Superintendent Dr. Kishore Kuncham said.

The district completed several renovation projects over the summer, including:

The district is also implementing a new technology plan, thanks to the Smart Schools Bond Act. This year there are over 4,300 Chromebooks for fifth- through 12th-grade students, and more than a thousand iPads and Chromebooks in kindergarten through fourth-grade classrooms.

To incorporate more technology into the classroom, the district also expanded “augmented reality” opportunities for students. The schools, according to officials, will use 4DLibrary, an augmented reading program, which will enhance instruction through virtual 3D models. Students will also engage in Mobile Application Development, or MAD, planning, creating, launching and marketing mobile apps.

While Atkinson fifth-grader teacher Jennifer Ferraelli welcomed students, Nashly Ramirez, Brianna Dighero, Ella Deourhg, Ashly Vicioso Duran and Rony Vicioso, all 10, unpacked their school supplies.

“I know that Nashly is nervous,” Diany Valdez, Nashly’s mother, said in her native Spanish. “I am too. It’s her first year at [Atkinson], and it’s new for me, too.”

“I just want to do good this school year,” Nashly said. “I look forward to my favorite class, music.”