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Stanley Park to Host Outdoor Fun Event


NEW BRITAIN — It’s that time again to experience Tarzan swings, obstacle courses and other outdoor activities.

Go Ape, a highly interactive treetop adventure course, will hold a grand opening celebration on May 29 at 11:30 a.m. at the A.W.Stanley Park.

As part of the festivities, the Holmes School there will be will be doing their Wounded Warrior walk through the Park.

Then, the Holmes school Choir will sing the National Anthem with the Pulaski School Band, followed by a ribbon cutting and remarks from New Britain Mayor Erin E. Stewart, Go Ape USA Managing Director Dan D’Agostino, and New Britain Parks & Recreation Director Bill Demaio.

Participants at the Grand Opening will get to swing from the trees, participate in a raffle for prizes and enjoy a light lunch.

Go Ape offers Connecticut residents and visitors a unique outdoor experience that encourages them to swing from the trees and live life adventurously.

 

 

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Charter School Advocates Fight Budget Cuts


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — Nearly 40, 000 Connecticut children attend under performing schools and many of them can’t read or do math at grade level, charter school advocates said this week while touting the number of people signed a petition demanding support for charter schools.

 
The Coalition For Every Child on Wednesday announced that 3,782 people have signed on to a petition to state leaders demanding that they support a great school for every child. The petition will remain open to collect more signatures until the end of the legislative session.

 
“Right now, there are 40,000 Connecticut children who attend under performing schools where the majority of students cannot read and do math at grade level,” the petition reads. “Most of them are low-income students or children of color. This is unacceptable. All children deserve the opportunity to get a great education, and they need it now. Connecticut needs expanded access to high-quality public schools for all children.”

 
Advocates said that the solution for under performing schools is to “continue to open high-performing public schools, fund all public schools equitably, and hold all schools accountable for results while also protecting the flexibility of individual schools to effectively serve the needs of all students, regardless of race, economic status or zip code.”

 
The announcement comes after 1,500 people from across the state attended a rally on the North Steps of the Capitol to voice their opposition to the Appropriations Committee budget, which proposed cuts for new public charter schools in Bridgeport and Stamford.

 
Funding for both schools and seats at existing charter schools was previously included in the budget release by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in February.

 
There are currently more than 3,600 students on wait lists for charter schools in the state. The budget proposed on Tuesday by the Appropriations Committee would do little to, charter schools advocates said.

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White House Honors East Hartford Teacher


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The White House recently honored one of Connecticut’s best teachers.

President Barack Obama honored Cara Quinn, one of 55 teachers from across the nation who gathered in the Rose Garden on a sunny afternoon. a East Hartford resident.

Quinn, who is not teaching now because of her father’s illness, has taught sixth grade at Sunset Ridge School for more than 10 years.

During her career, Quinn has developed programs to prepare students for college, including a college immersion experience. She said she focuses not only on academics, but on character development.

“I think its important to nurture students to be globally aware,” she said.

Last October, Quinn was also named Connecticut’s 2015 Teacher of the Year.

“In her classroom, Mrs. Quinn not only teaches the material, she also teaches her students about their community and about their world,” Former Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said in a press release. “She encourages her students to give back through service and inspires them to make a difference.”

A teacher of 11 years, Quinn was chosen from over 100 district-level Teachers of the Year.

Quinn succeeded the 2014 Connecticut Teacher of the Year,  John Mastroianni. He is a music teacher at William H. Hall High School in West Hartford

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School Choice Begins in Connecticut


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  School Choice Week starts on Monday in Connecticut and across America.

From now until Jan.  31, there will be 153 school choice events across the state.

The events are part of National School Choice Week, which will feature 11,082 events across America – the largest celebration of educational opportunity in US history. In Hartford, several educators plan to discuss the future of North End schools on Jan. 31 at Liberty Christian Center at 9: 30 a.m.

The event is sponsored by Achieve Hartford!, African Caribbean American Parents of Children with Disabilities, Hartford Parent University, Daughters of Eve, and the Blue Hills Civic Association.

School Choice Week events in Connecticut include open houses, information sessions, policy roundtable discussions and more – planned by schools, organizations, homeschool groups and individuals.

“Connecticut families have choices when it comes to where to send their children to school, and National School Choice Week provides an opportunity for families to look into the options available to them, and, if they feel they want greater opportunities — to have their voices heard,” said  Andrew R. Campanella, president, National School Choice Week

Officials said the goal of the events is to inform parents about the K-12 education options available for their children, while raising awareness of the benefits providing families with a variety of different options for their children’s education.

Connecticut cities with the most events will also be in  New Haven,  Bridgeport,  and Waterbury.

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US Attorney: CT Faces ‘Alarming’ Number of Complaints


By Candice Dodd, Staff Writer

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut is facing “an alarming number” of complaints from parents about the discrimination of children in public and private schools.

Deidre M. Daly, the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said that the office receives a large volume of complaints from parents and caregivers across the state alleging that schools, after-school programs and summer camps because of the child’s disability, gender, gender identity, or limited ability to speak English, discriminated against their children.

Daly recently announced the formation of the Educational Opportunities Civil Rights Working Group to address the violations of children from public and private educational institutions.

“Civil rights violations in educational and camp settings undermine the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens – our children,” Daly said.

The U.S. Attorneys Office has received complaints about bullying, sexual harassment and school segregation in public and private schools.

Most recently, they reached a settlement with Quinnipiac University to resolve allegations that the university violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing a student who had been diagnosed with depression on a mandatory medical leave of absence without first considering options for the student’s continued enrollment.

Over the last several months, the office has settled a number of cases against schools, after-school programs and daycare centers for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974. These settlements have resulted in monetary agreements to parents; comprehensive training for providers and sweeping policy changes to entire educational programs and systems, state officials said.

Recognizing a greater need to address these issues and help prevent further civil rights violations in educational and camp settings, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has partnered with federal and state agencies and numerous advocacy groups to form the Educational Opportunities Civil Rights Working Group. Participants include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Development and the U.S. Department of Education.

Officials said that the Working Group is on its way to develop and implement a strategic plan of action to resolve civil rights violations through educational outreach programs as well as law enforcement actions.

“Through aggressive outreach and enforcement initiatives, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our working group partners strive to eliminate these violations to improve the health and welfare of all children and young adults,” Daly said.

To contact the Educational Opportunities Civil Rights Working Group,  call 203-821-3896.

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Glastonbury Hosts Eight-Grade Soccer Competition


By Karin Price Muller, Contributor

GLASTONBURY —  Soccer and science recently met head on, scoring a big goal for an eighth grader’s science project. And the win couldn’t have happened without the donations of a few local businesses.

Sam Mueller, 13, of Monmouth County, N.J., is a travel soccer player with a love of science. When his teacher tasked his class with coming up with topics for the Jersey Shore Science Fair in the spring of 2015, many students tackled acids and bases, or temperature, or colors. But Sam wanted to research something a little closer to his heart.
Soccer.
He created a project that would test how the spin of a kicked soccer ball would affect distance. Physics at its finest.
But there was a problem. Even with the most precise ball-kicker – even with a professional soccer player — the actual kicking of the ball would vary. For the project to work, Sam needed the kicks to be a constant.
So the research began. After weeks of looking, Sam found the Globus Eurogoal 1500: a training machine used by soccer pros all over the world. But at a cost of thousands of dollars, buying one for the project wasn’t an option. With the help of his mom, Sam contacted soccer teams all over New Jersey and surrounding states to see if anyone had a machine he could borrow, but they came up empty.
That’s when they asked Giovanni Cirani, managing partner of Globus Sport & Health Technologies of West Hartford – the company that makes the machine – if he had any suggestions.
Cirani said Sam could use his Eurogoal 1500 for the trials – the most important part of his research project.
“Without the Eurogoal, I wouldn’t have been able to make this project work,” Sam said.
But next, Sam needed a place to hold the trials. While the West Hartford area has plenty of outdoor fields to choose from, snow, or even wind, could mean failure for the trial.
Sam and his mother contacted several indoor facilities, but none had an opening that would work — until they contacted the Oakwood Sports Center in Glastonbury, which not only offered space for the trials, but also donated the time on its indoor turf field for free.
Sam traveled almost three hours on Dec. 31 to meet Criani at the Oakwood Sports Center.
Cirani, who was an aerospace engineer before working with Globus, said he couldn’t resist helping Sam with the project.
“Sam has great drive to work so hard to make this happen,” Cirani said during the trials. “It’s fun to see soccer and physics meet this way.”
And after nearly two hours of shots using backspin, topspin, and spin to the right and the left, and lots of time with measuring tapes, Sam has the data he needs for his project. If he does well at the science fair in the spring, he’ll move on to a regional one, and then nationals.

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RSCO’s Last Regional School Choice Fair on Feb. 12


HARTFORD — Parents will get a chance to check out available seats in magnet and charter schools at the last Hartford Regional Open Choice Program School Fair this February.

School officials said that the largest numbers of available seats tend to be in the entry-level grades for each school or program, particularly grade 6 and grade 9.

The fair will feature information about the wide array of programming options available to Hartford and suburban students entering grades 6 through grade 12.

Parents, grandparents, guardians and students will be able to speak with  staff from RSCO and its partners, the Capitol Region Education Council, Hartford Public Schools’ Host Magnet Program, the Hartford Region Open Choice Program, Goodwin College, the Connecticut Technical High School System, Bloomfield Public Schools and East Hartford Public Schools.

RSCO will offer free bus transportation to and from) the Public Safety Academy on the day of the fair, departing from three designated Hartford locations:

– Hartford Public Library, SAND/Ropkins Branch (1750 Main St.); departing at 10:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.

– Hartford Public Library, Dwight Branch (7 New Park Ave.); departing at 10:30 a.m. and 10:50 a.m.

– State Employee Parking Lot, corner of Capitol Ave. and Oak St.; departing at 10:45 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.

Transportation will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Families will also have the option of submitting an online application for the 2015-16 RSCO lottery.  The 2015-16 lottery application period opened on Saturday, Nov.  15, 2014 and the on-time application period closes on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.

For more information on school fairs, information sessions, and open houses, please visit RSCO’s Web site at http://www.choiceeducation.org or call RSCO’s Parent Information Center at 860-713-6990 weekdays (excluding state holidays) between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Conard High School

110 Beechwood Road

West Hartford, Connecticut 06107

 

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Hartford Schools Receive ESL Grant


Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

About 2,000 of Hartford’s young English learners and their families will receive new resources and assistance to “positively impact their literacy and academic outcomes,” city officials announced on Tuesday.

Thanks to a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund and a $100,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Hartford Public Schools serve more ELs than any other Connecticut district, with 17 percent of its students identified as ELs in 2012-13 and 40 percent from homes where English is not the primary language. Officials said.

This effort addresses a need to prepare teachers and leaders in the earliest grades of school to provide English learners with effective instruction and support and to provide families with culturally sensitive and concrete information in their own language on how to promote their children’s learning.

The project will help to create a more coordinated system for young English learners and their families and create greater continuity in supporting these students as they transition from preschool to early elementary grades to increase their opportunities for school readiness and success

Officials said the program is aligned with the Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards, Common Core English Language Arts, and Next Generation Science Standards.
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Ed Department Taps Wentzell to Lead


HARTFORD — The Connecticut Department of Education has a new leader: Dianna Wenzell.

Officials announced on Monday that Wentzell, who currently serves as the department’s chief academic officer,  will head the department while the State Board of Education searches for a replacement of outgoing commissioner Stefan Pryor.  Pryor will leave the state to head the Department of Commerce in Rhode Island. He was also the deputy mayor and director of economic and housing development in Newark.

Pryor resigned after heading the board of education for four years.

Wentzell has a doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Hartford, a master’s in education from the University of Massachusettes, and a bachelor’s in Russian Studies from Mount Holyoke College.

Before joining the state department, she was an assistant superintendent for Hartford Public Schools.

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National School Choice Week Set for January 2015


HARTFORD — National School Choice Week 2015 will officially begin on Jan. 23 with an official kickoff in Jacksonville, Florida.

Supporters of school choice have planned more than 10,000 events to “raise awareness about the importance of greater opporuntiies in K-12 education,” organizers said. There will be more than 100 events in Greater Hartford and New Haven area.

The events are timed to coincide with National School Choice Week 2015, which runs from Jan.  25 – 31.

Events, which are independently planned and independently funded, will include information sessions, roundtable discussion, movie screenings, rallies and other special events.

The goal of National School Choice Week is to shine a positive spotlight on all types of effective education options for children, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, homeschooling, private schools, and online academies, organizers said.

According to President of National School Choice Week Andrew Campanella, “the growth in enthusiasm for school choice can be attributed to simple supply and demand.”

“More American families than ever before are actively choosing the best educational environments for their children, which has galvanized millions of additional parents – those without options ­– to demand greater choices for their own children,” Campanella said. “National School Choice Week will feature both of those themes, providing a platform for people to celebrate school choice where it exists and demand it where it does not.”

National School Choice Week started as an annual celebration in 2011, with 150 events.

For more information, visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com/press

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