Is That the School Bell Ringing?

Renovations, new start times, new faces greet returning students this week
Back to school! Morgan McGivern

When East Hampton High School students return to classes on Wednesday, they will find an entirely revamped library. In Sag Harbor, students and parents alike will notice that the new grass athletic field is nearly ready for play, and in Springs, which starts the school year on Tuesday, students will officially welcome their new superintendent, Debra Winter, for her first full school year, although she had been a regular feature around the building long before her start date of July 1.

Across the South Fork, as students get their backpacks in order and find their fall shoes, schools are preparing to welcome them back.

The school year begins on Wednesday in all South Fork public schools but Springs. The Ross School will open its doors on both lower and upper campuses on Friday, Sept. 8. The first day of school is Sept. 13 at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. 

In Sag Harbor, the new school year begins with a new start time: 7:50 a.m., giving Pierson Middle and High school students a welcome 15 minutes extra each morning. At the elementary school, the day will begin five minutes later at 8:50 a.m. As for that grass field? “The sod is down, the concrete areas and patio are complete, though we need to wait a little while for the field to be useable,” said the high school’s principal, Jeff Nichols.

At East Hampton High School, the library renovation, which took place over the summer, showcases a vast selection of new titles that span every genre from popular fiction to fantasy, nonfiction, and required reading. Also updated is the school’s e-book library, and there is a new configuration of work zones and computer nooks, turning the space into “a new, incredible learning environment,” according to Adam Fine, the high school principal. 

At the East Hampton Middle School, the theme for the upcoming school year is “perseverance,” according to the principal, Charles Soriano. All students are required to read the Langston Hughes poem “Harlem,” the iconic work of the great African-American poet, which contains that memorable line: “What happens to a dream deferred?”

Students will learn firsthand about perseverance in January when Cara Nelson, a social studies teacher, will participate in the World Marathon Challenge, competing in seven full marathons on all seven continents in seven days. 

“One of the greatest predictors of future success is the ability to deal with difficult and uncertain situations,” Dr. Soriano wrote in an email to parents. “I think the key is to practice perseverance — for weathering challenges and change when they occur. Middle school is the perfect place to cultivate this learnable trait.”

The Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center in East Hampton will reopen with a meet-and-greet for parents and students on Wednesday from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Eighty new prekindergartners from the East Hampton, Wainscott, and Sagaponack School Districts will join the center this year. The building has undergone a facelift, with some rooms repurposed and reconfigured, and an additional classroom created. 

There will be half days for pre-K students, running from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., next Thursday and Friday, Sept. 8. The first full day of school will be Sept. 11.

In Amagansett, the focus for the new school year, said the school’s superintendent, Eleanor Tritt, will be to continue providing high instructional standards while implementing the revamped New York State standardized tests, now known as Next Generation Learning Standards. Ms. Tritt also pointed to the school’s goal to create a more tech-savvy environment, utilizing the Google Classroom and personal Chromebooks for students to help prepare them for working in a “cloud-based” environment. 

In Springs, students will have the unusual opportunity to connect with the school’s science teacher, Lisa Seff, who is traveling through the Arctic studying the region’s food web aboard the 261-foot research vessel Sikuliaq. On Sept. 14, Ms. Seff will be conducting a live webinar with the entire school from her ship — “not an easy task!” she wrote by email this week. The webinar will offer students and the public the opportunity to ask researchers questions.   Students, staff, parents, and residents of Springs will also be pleased to know that repair work on the septic system is expected to be completed and that it should be functioning as normal before the start of school.

The Hayground School will hold its annual opening potluck picnic for families on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Students in need of backpacks may find them at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church on Montauk Highway in Amagansett, which will be giving them away on Sunday at 11 a.m.