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10 Good Things Happening at Tonawanda Schools in 2019-20

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As students and staff settle into a new school year, the Tonawanda City School District has many different initiatives in motion. Here are 10 good things happening in your school district this year:

1) TONA2020
After years of planning and evaluation, the district is moving forward with a public vote on an Elementary School Improvement & Consolidation Project. This project is the final phase of the TONA2020 initiative and will address critical facilities needs in our elementary schools, instructional programming space and current emerging school safety protocols. The vote is slated for Oct. 22 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with three public information meetings scheduled ahead of the vote. More information can be found on the district website at tonawandacsd.org/tona2020.

2) Warrior Way
The Warrior Way character motto will be guiding students in their behaviors once again. The district-wide initiative helps strengthen the bond students have to their community and each other. Following the Warrior Way means being respectful, responsible and safe. We are all Warriors, and that message is consistent across all buildings, and from kindergarten through 12th grade for students.

3) Free Meals
This is the second year all elementary students will be given free breakfast and lunch through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Thanks to a nearly 100% return rate on the Household Income Form last year, Tonawanda received an additional CEP year. New this year, due to additional state funding, middle and high school students deemed eligible for reduced meals will automatically receive free meals. All families are encouraged to fill out a Household Income Form (grades K-5) and/or a Free & Reduced Meal Form (grades 6-12) to help maximize future grant funding.

4) Warrior Wear
This is the second year of Warrior Wear, a clothing and shoe store for community members in need. Each year, Warrior Wear hosts a back-to-school event for families so students can have “new” clothes for the start of school. Families can also secure winter gear during the Christmas for Kids event. All clothing is new or gently used and is available free of charge. Please call 694-7670 ext. 2208 to shop, donate, or volunteer.

5) New Staff
A number of new staff members are joining the Warrior family. They include, from Fletcher, Krista Berg (teacher assistant), Alexandra Seibert (fourth grade teacher) and Mary Rose Wittman (social worker); and from the MS/HS, Joseph Fisher (social studies teacher), Michael Gregory (custodian), Kate Fenske (guidance counselor) and Rebecca Harmon (clerk typist).

6) School Safety
The district continues to take additional precautions to enhance school safety. This past year, the school embarked on a capital outlay project to secure entryway access with new ID badges, swipe readers and cameras. The Raptor management system is now in its second year of providing additional safety measures by screening all visitors, with school monitors at building entrances.

7) STEAM
The district continues to implement new and immersive tools to enhance the use of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) in the curriculum. Virtual reality goggles, drones and LEGO boards are now used in classrooms, giving teachers more ways to foster hands-on learning with their students. The first-ever Family STEAM Night last year brought together community groups and students for engaging STEAM activities.

8) Mental Health
For three years, the Tower Foundation funded Kate Fenske to serve as a mental health coordinator, providing services to K-5 students. The district is excited to welcome Kate as a full-time employee to continue supporting K-5 teachers with the Second Step curriculum, work collaboratively with district employees to complete behavior assessments and plans, and work with elementary teachers and students to meet state mandates for elementary career plans and instruction.

9) Theatre Season
Another action-packed year is in store for the Theatre Department. The 2019-20 season will feature Disney’s “Aladdin JR.” for the middle school Nov. 22-23 and the comedic “Drowsy Chaperone” March 19-22 for the high school. The High School Drama Club will present the potboiler murder mystery “Drop Dead!” May 8-9. Learn more online at tonawandacsd.org/theatre.

10) Emergency Response Drill
On Aug. 21, the district partnered with city police, firefighters and other agencies to engage in an emergency response drill at the Middle/High School complex. Volunteer “victims” were placed inside classrooms with simulated injuries, allowing first responders to triage the in-jured with their needs in mind. The goal of the drill was to help ensure all involved parties are fully prepared and trained for any potential emergency or crisis situation.

We hope you have a wonderful 2019-2020 school year!