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Back to school for Mendon Upton students

Students board bus M9 headed to Clough Elementary School on August 27, the first day of school for the Mendon Upton Regional School District.

Students packed up their backpacks and lunchboxes to head back to school in the Mendon Upton Regional School District on Tuesday, August 27. Although the day began with overcast skies, the sun came out later in the day to shine on the first of 180 days of school.

At Nipmuc Regional High School, Principal John Clements said that the beginning of the school year went very smoothly. "We had a wonderful first few days of school. We are getting to know our freshmen and can already tell that they are a great group of kids," he said. Clements also mentioned that this year they have welcomed 11 new teachers, replacing teachers who have retired or left the district, to their "phenomenal" teaching staff. "The energy in the school right now is terrific," he said.

The beginning of the school year also marks the beginning a few new changes in the district at the elementary and middle school levels. The first change was the transition to universal, tuition free, full-day Kindergarten. Prior to this school year, parents had the option of choosing half-day Kindergarten at no cost or choosing full-day Kindergarten for a tuition-based fee. This year, all students attending Kindergarten at both Clough and Memorial Elementary Schools will be attending full-day Kindergarten at no cost to the families.

At the middle school, the 1:1 iPad initiative piloted in the seventh grade last year has been expanded to the entire school starting with grades 6-8 for the beginning of the school year and for grade 5 beginning in January 2014. Families were presented with different "parent-funded" options for the equipment and students attended a training class over the summer to set up and receive their iPad so that the program could be rolled-out to all students prior to the start of school.

Even with the new changes, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Maruszczak said that the first day of school in the district went "exceptionally well." "All four buildings had very smooth openings," he said. Maruszczak said he spent the majority of the first day visiting each school and commented that in each one he saw "many happy and engaged students."


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