School buildings are getting a final cleaning and prepping, and teachers are getting their lessons plan ready as Wilton public schools prepare for opening day on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Students at Cider Mill School will be welcomed to a sparkling new interior, featuring new flooring and ceiling tiles with LED lights. At Wilton High School, there will be a significant change in the class schedule, and a new Alternative School will open its doors at Trackside Teen Center.

Just as the school year starts, there will be two days off for holidays. On Monday, Sept. 2, schools will be closed for Labor Day, and on Monday, Sept. 4 for Rosh Hashanah. School district offices will also be closed those days.

Miller-Driscoll School

With classes starting at 9:05 a.m., the first day of school for kindergarteners through second-graders is Tuesday, Aug. 27. The first day for preschoolers is Wednesday, Aug. 28.

Before that, PreK and K students can meet their teachers in their individual classrooms on Thursday, Aug. 22 from 9 to 9:45 a.m. First and second graders can meet their teachers from 10 to 10:45 a.m.

There will be an open house on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 7:15 p.m. for PreK and K parents, and one for first and second grade parents on Monday, Sept 9 at 7:15 p.m.

Miller-Driscoll Spirit Day is Friday, Sept. 6.

“We are so excited for opening day,” said Principal Kathryn Coon.

Staff will continue offering purposeful play initiatives and there will be some multi-aged courses in conjunction with students from Cider Mill School, she said.

There will also be some changes to how recess is scheduled. “We’re going to have kids go outside with their teachers for a 30-minute recess and have a shorter play time attached to lunch,” according to Coon.

There was previously a longer recess attached to lunch, overseen by lunch staff. The change means classroom teachers will now have more time with their students at recess. “It’s all about meaningful play. This supports the school’s play initiative,” Coon said.

Miller-Driscoll will continue its association with Columbia Teachers College for a second year. The school uses reading and writing units from Columbia and the school’s instructional coaches receive professional development from onsite staff from the college.

Enrollment at Miller-Driscoll is pretty steady for the upcoming school year, Coon said. However, there will be one less kindergarten class this year, down from 13 to 12 classes due to decreased enrollment in that grade.

Cider Mill School

“We’ve had a complete renovation done to the school,” said Principal Jennifer Falcone. “All the carpets have been taken up and the building is bright and light,” she said.

There has also been substantial renovation to the Library Learning Commons, the “learning hub” of the school which services students in grades 3-5.

“It’s been completely remodeled, with new furniture, a new layout and paint,” Falcone said.

So far, there are about 20 less students enrolled at Cider Mill than there were last year. There are currently 255 students in grade three, 269 students in grade four, and 312 students in grade five, Falcone said.

The school is focusing on inclusivity and making sure everyone feels included, Falcone said. For the first day of school people will be wearing new tee shirts, featuring Buzzby the Bee, the school’s new mascot. The shirts say “Bee Here. Bee You. Beelong.”

For new classes, the school is implementing new science and social studies curriculum, including transdisciplinary classes with a unifying theme.

Classes at Cider Mill begin on Aug. 27 at 7:40 a.m.

Students in North Houses — Cannondale and Nod Hill, will have the chance to meet their teachers on Thursday, Aug. 22 from 11 a.m. to noon 10:45 a.m. in their individual classrooms.

Students in South Houses — Belden Hill and Kent, can meet their teachers on Thursday, Aug. 22 from 1 to 2 p.m.

The Cider Mill PTA will host a New Parent Coffee in the cafeteria on Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m.

Cider Mill will have an open house for Cannondale and Nod Hill on Thursday, Sept. 5 from 6 to 7 p.m. and an open house for Belden Hill and Kent on Monday, Sept. 9 , from 6 to 7 p.m.

Picture day at Cider Mill is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Middlebrook School

“We are ready,” said Principal Lauren Feltz. “We’re excited to give kids a wonderful year as they return to school.”

Middlebrook School services students in grades 6-8, with classes starting at 8:20 a.m.

Over the summer, a drainage issue was fixed, Feltz said, so the school’s courtyard is no longer flooded in heavy rain.

Middlebrook students will continue to study the zero waste initiative, this year focusing on reducing.

“Up to this point, we dealt with how we dispose of our leftover food. Now we’re looking at packing, taking and purchasing only what we can use. While it’s good to compost and recycle, it’s better not to purchase or pack wastefully and be thoughtful about portion size,” she said.

New classes offered this year include a Statistics and Probability course for 7th and 8th grade students.

Students may be especially interested in two standard poodle puppies which are being socialized at Middlebrook with the goal of them becoming certified therapy dogs.

Cricket and Clove, one-month old poodle pups, are being raised by Feltz and her family, and will be spending time at Middlebrook interacting with students.

On Thursday, Aug. 22, seventh and eighth graders are invited to a one-hour walk-through at Middlebrook from noon to 1 p.m., while sixth graders are invited to a walk-through from 2 to 3 p.m.

There will be an open house for grade 6 parents on Wednesday, Sept. 4 from 7 to 8 p.m., an open house for grade 7 parents on Tuesday, Sept. 10 from 7 to 8 p.m., and an open open house for grade 8 parents on Tuesday, Sept. 17 from 7 to 8 p.m.

Wilton High School

A new schedule is being launched for students at Wilton High School. Instead of an eight period “drop one” block schedule, students will now have just four classes in one day, alternating days with their other four classes.

“Students will have fewer classes in one day, but those classes will be longer with time for more lengthy quality instruction periods so students will have to transition less,” said Principal Robert O’Donnell.

On opening day, Tuesday, Aug. 27, the new schedule starts with Day A, featuring classes from periods 1,3,5,7. Wednesday, Aug. 28, Day B, classes from periods 2,4,6,8. Thursday, Aug, 29, Day C, 3,1,7,5 and Friday, Aug. 30, Day D, 4,2,6,8.

Although enrollment numbers can fluctuate, currently there are 1,284 high school students enrolled for the upcoming school year: 348 freshmen, 284 sophomores, 340 juniors, and 312 seniors.

There will be some new courses offered, O’Donnell said, in order to keep the curriculum contemporary. New classes include Literacy in the Digital World, for freshmen; Data Structures and Algorithms for upper class math students; Executive Functioning to help students organize and navigate their school day; Peer Leadership; and a revised U.S. History course that re-sequences the social studies curriculum. The class used to be a course for sophomores, but will now be offered to juniors instead.

“I commend the staff and faculty for all they have done to make sure everything is ready for the school’s launch,” O’Donnell said.

Wilton High School will have an open house on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m.

Picture day for grades 9-11 is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 29. Senior photos will be taken Sept. 3 - Sept. 6.

Alternative school

The alternative school, Located at the Trackside Teen Center, 15 Station Road, is gearing up for its grand opening on Aug. 27.

A new initiative, the alternative school is designed to include students who are currently outplaced and students who may seek outplacement in the future.

There are currently 10 students enrolled in the alternate school, according to Assistant Superintendent of Special Services Andrea Leonardi, who spearheaded the program.

Enrollment is ongoing and students can register at the school any time during the school year.

The school has four staff members: one humanities teacher, one STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teacher, one special education teacher and one licensed clinical social worker.

Curriculum for the alternative school is based on the core standards of Wilton public schools’ curriculum.

Students will receive the same number of instructional hours as Wilton’s middle school and high school, but with a different schedule: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and dismissal at noon on Fridays. “The early dismissal on Fridays allows the team to do planning,” Leonardi said.

An open house is being planned for the fall.

Board of Education

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m., in the Wilton High School Professional Library.

Visit the Wilton Public School District website, wiltonps.org/, for information and updates as well as online and printable versions of the 2019-20 school year calendar.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com