On August 31, students in grades Kindergarten, sixth and ninth grade return to school while all other grades head back on September 5. The staggered start time is to give students who are moving from one school to another in Milford School District, as well as those who are entering school for the very first time, more time to adjust. Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent, said that the staggered times were advocated by the schools as well as parents.
“The transition days have been implemented in collaboration with our students and families to assist them as they transition from one building to another,” Dr. Dickerson said. “The transition to Kindergarten can be an overwhelming experience for not only the child but for the family as well. Separation anxiety can be eased for students by having an opportunity to fully understand what a day in the life of a Kindergarten student is truly like. The Evelyn I. Morris Early Childhood Center really advocated for this experience and support for our new Kindergartners, as well as their families, and has put together a great plan.” Dr. Dickerson said that as important as the staggered start times are for young students, they are also critical for older students who are transitioning into secondary education.
Experienced students find it easier to navigate the schools and establish a relationship with critical staff members so they feel comfortable reaching out for support during the school year. Changing to a new school and starting school for the first time are important milestones for students as well as their families. When students enter Milford Central Academy and Milford High School, it is the first time they change classes throughout the day. The classes may not be located close to each other so students sometimes struggle finding their new classrooms and managing to get to class on time when the hallways are filled with other grades. The extra day gives them the opportunity to locate their classes without dealing with halls crowded with upperclassmen.
Dr. Dickerson said that parents can begin now preparing their students in all grades for the upcoming school year. Staff encourages students and families to attend the various welcoming events prior to the start of the school year. For Benjamin Banneker, Lulu Ross and Mispillion Elementary students, their Meet the Teacher Day is August 30, where they will have the opportunity to explore the school, find their classroom, meet their teacher and other staff members as well as pick up class and school information. The Meet the Teacher event for first and second grades is from 1 PM until 2 PM and for third, fourth and fifth grades from 2 until 3 PM. Milford Central Academy’s (MCA) Open House is on August 30, beginning at 6 PM in the gymnasium. MCA student schedules will be sent home the week before school begins and families should bring the schedules with them to open house. Milford High School’s (MHS) Open House is August 29 starting at 6 PM in the school auditorium. Students and families will have an opportunity to pick up their student schedule at that time. Supply lists will be available at MCA and MHS open houses. Students will also have an opportunity to visit their classrooms and meet their teachers as they transition through the class schedule that evening.
There will also be a school-day kindergarten transition event held at Morris on August 31 which is an important meet the teacher and open house event for the students and their families. Morris has planned a staggered schedule for the day with visitation times specified for each student and family. That information will be communicated to parents soon, Dr. Dickerson said. There is also a Pre-Kindergarten Open House scheduled for September 8 from 1:30 until 2:30 PM. Dr. Dickerson recommends that families arrive earlier than the event start as it is a well-attended event each year.
“Families can assist their children in school readiness by helping them get into bedtime routines consistent with the school year,” Dr. Dickerson said. “We encourage families to slowly begin to make their children’s bedtimes earlier and, for children who have become used to sleeping in over the summer, begin slowly waking them up a half-hour earlier each morning until reaching the time they will need to get up on a school day. Getting into the routine of eating breakfast and lunch each day is also important. Again this year, free breakfast and free lunch are available for our students each school day.”
Dr. Dickerson said that parents can also help students get ready for the upcoming school year by encouraging them to read each day or by reading to them. This gives students the opportunity to practice skills they will use when the year begins. Playing board games and requiring students to help with chores around the house are also ways to help them practice math facts and keep their mental skills sharp.
“We suggest that MCA and MHS families discuss strategies with their children in regards to organizing and managing their time in preparation for the school year and the various activities in which they may be involved in,” Dr. Dickerson said. “Basic supply lists are available on each school’s website, although we do caution parents to wait until more detailed supply information is communicated at the open house before doing any extensive supply purchasing. Also, we encourage our families to review our dress code policy and to contact the schools with any questions or needs that they may have.”
School times have been adjusted slightly for the upcoming school year in an effort to infuse more student learning and instructional time. Morris will begin at 8:45 AM with student drop-off beginning at 8:25 AM. Buses depart the school at 3:25 PM, but if your child is picked up after school, plan to arrive between 3:10 and 3:25 PM. Banneker, Ross and Mispillion will begin at 7:35 AM with dismissal at 2:25 PM. Parents may drop children off at 7:15 AM while buses depart at the end of the day at 2:30 PM. The school day for Milford Central Academy begins at 8:30 AM and students dismiss at 3:20 PM, buses departing at 3:25 PM. Students may enter the building at 8:15 AM for breakfast. The first period at Milford High School begins at 7:35 AM with students able to enter as early as 7 AM. The day ends at 2:23 PM and buses depart at 2:30 PM.
“Elementary students will experience an increased focus on writing in all subject areas,” Dr. Dickerson said. “Handwriting, including the incorporation of cursive writing, is a renewed focus within the elementary curriculum. After a successful Morris implementation last school year, the immersion program has expanded into the first grade at Banneker and Ross school locations.”
Dr. Dickerson said another change students and parents may notice this year is in higher level grades. Milford Central Academy revised its expressive course rotations. Band and chorus students will now be able to experience four full expressive courses each year in addition to their band and chorus courses. Students not in band or chorus will now have eight expressive courses throughout the year. Band and chorus continue to be full-year expressive courses with other expressive courses marking period, or nine-week, courses. The District worked closely with the University of Delaware Professional Development group to create an instructional strategy focus within each subject area.
In addition to changes at MCA, Milford High School students will find that their schedules have been enhanced to provide more support for students throughout the school year. The enhanced schedules are also more student-friendly and should increase opportunities for students. Students will now engage in five 72-minute courses each day. Most are semester long, lasting half the school year. Courses that last the entire year include Advanced Placement courses and ninth grade English and Math.
“This is an exciting academic year for MHS students as they have the ability to engage in the newly expanded major opportunities as described in the course catalog which was released last winter,” Dr. Dickerson said. “The course catalog is available on the school website or may be picked up at the school. Expanded opportunities for participation in dual enrollment courses, in which students earn college credits as well as high school credits, exist as well.”
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