Back to School Bash attracts hundreds of New Britain families
Ziaire Bradley is a New Britain student who is excited to become a third grader when school starts Wednesday.
“I want to go back to school because I want to meet new friends and new teachers,” he said.
He was with his parents, Amber and Gregory Brown, at the Consolidated School District of New Britain’s Back to School Bash at Walnut Hill Park on Thursday. The bash served as a celebration and a kickoff of the new semester by giving parents and students a chance to meet new teachers, get free school uniforms and learn about their schools.
Over 40 community partners joined the event to pass out resources to families, including backpacks and school supplies.
“I’m excited,” Amber Brown said. “This is wonderful. I don’t think we’ve ever been to an event like this, and I’m just overjoyed because I get to learn about a lot of the other businesses, and all of the programs that my son can actually join.”
Seeing all the people gathered for a back-to-school event was also exciting for Gregory Brown. He said it was nice to see the community come together.
“I’m just looking to be more positive,” he said, referring to potential concerns about learning gaps and the need for more student mental health support. “I just want the kids to have a good time and not worry too much.”
School staff had signs made up to remind kids that it’s important to be in school and to stay engaged.
Smalley Elementary School Principal Andrea Foligno held up one of those signs, decorated with glitter and bright colors.
“We’re so excited to have our kids show their faces, that makes a huge difference in terms of how they feel in school,” Foligno said. “We haven’t had any concerns about masks so far. It’s been draining, and I think everyone is just looking forward to going back to normal.”
Public health officials suggest that students with symptoms wear a mask at school, but there is currently no statewide pandemic mask mandate in place.
Connecticut education officials just released test data, which showed that overall student achievement is still below pre-pandemic levels. Foligno said the school district is fully prepared to close the learning gap.
“We are focused on looking at the achievement gaps, looking at our populations and making sure that we strive to make more than a year’s gain to close that achievement gap,” Foligno said. “We’re ready to go.”