Outside, small, shiny blue pinwheels and signs outlined the perimeter of the traffic circle. The round patch of grass gracing the school’s entrance was spray-painted blue with the American flag at its center. From up above, the combination of blue grass and blue chalk drawn on the ground, formed the shape of a giant ribbon; the first sign of celebration that children saw as they arrived at school that morning and a symbol of exemplary teaching and learning.
To begin the assembly, Hillside's Safety Patrol led attendees through the Pledge of Allegiance, and afterwards, Hillside Principal Amy Cazes shared what it really means to be a National Blue Ribbon School.
“The National Blue Ribbon School Award acknowledges and validates the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in aiming for, and reaching, educational excellence,” Cazes said. “297 schools across 45 states received this award and only 20 schools in New York State,” she added. “We were one of them. This award is about ALL of us!”
Following Cazes, Assistant Principal Michael LaRocco congratulated Hillside’s two-time award-winning educators who also were here back in 1997, when Hillside last received the honor.
Other guests in attendance included Superintendent Dr. William McKersie, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Melissa Szymanski, Business Official Maureen Caraballo, Hastings High School Principal Louis Adipietro, Farragut Middle School Principal Jennifer Spirelli, Board of Education President Alex Dal Piaz, Board of Education Trustees Silvia Robles and Dr. Damaris Lang, the PTSA’s Bessie Wilkerson and Tanya Rynders, and SEPTA’s Amanda Kupillas. Reporters from Rivertowns Enterprise even came to celebrate while middle and high school students and families District-wide were patched in from home via live-stream.
Topped off by a special musical tribute directed by Music Teachers Kathryn Concra and Christopher Campbell, where students sang Teresa Jennings's “You Are Our Heroes,” and a faculty flash mob ran by Third Grade Team Leader and Theatre Production Coordinator Phyllis Udice, the event was an exciting start to the week's festivities!
Here’s what's in store all week for students and staff.