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Looking Ahead to a New School Year


Even if the forecast is for warm, sunny fall days, the summer is really over the day school begins. And in Great Neck, this year, that day is Wednesday, Sept. 9. “Every religion has its own calendar and its own way to celebrate the arrival of a New Year,” says Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz. “And for those of us involved in the field of education, September marks the beginning of a new year filled with its own anticipation, pomp and circumstance and celebration.”

As ever, Ms. Berkowitz, and the entire Great Neck School District, are looking to the 2009-2010 school year with anticipation and with excitement. Although everyone at the schools has been busy all summer preparing for a great new school year, as the opening date draws closer, the rhythm has picked up.

Looking back and looking ahead, in a recent interview Ms. Berkowitz told the Great Neck Record that “This summer, while at home recuperating from surgery, I’ve had time to think about how this time of year brings with it the promise of new beginnings and a fresh start. Regardless of the past year one has had, September is significant for allowing one to build on the success of the past or to erase the past and start anew.”

Starting anew is a big part of this year’s new school year, with a new superintendent already in place, already at work. “To add to our new beginnings this September, we are all so pleased and energized to be working together with our new superintendent, Dr. Thomas Dolan, who has already been hard at work at Phipps, as well as getting to know so many of you in our wonderful community,” Ms. Berkowitz said, adding “ I know that he is extremely eager for school to open and to go to every school to welcome one and all on the first day of school on Sept. 9!”

However, a new school year brings not only exciting first days, but an entire year, and a large student body, with much hard work and much attention to detail in order. No small feat in these precarious economic times! Ms. Berkowitz, her board, and the schools’ administrators are all well aware of this. Ms. Berkowitz readily acknowledged the issues: “This year the board of education, Dr. Dolan and our administration are faced with daunting challenges due to our concerns regarding the volatility of the economy. We have all pledged to reexamine every dollar spent in our budget. At the same time, we will continue to strive to strike that delicate balance between the practice of fiscal prudence while still ensuring that each child receives an appropriate education for that child’s abilities. Our children are absolutely our most valuable ‘assets’ and we owe them the best head start in life that we can give them!”

No, it will not be a particularly easy year for those in charge, but the school district is more than ready to ensure that each child receives an education tailored to individual needs, no matter what that need might entail. Those at the Great Neck Public Schools are ready for Sept. 9, happily awaiting the arrival of the large body of students … and Ms. Berkowitz wants to pass that excitement on to each student, from the little ones in pre-kindergarten right up to the seniors looking forward to graduation. “As a child I loved the ritual of getting my new school supplies ready and going shopping for a new pair of shoes at the end of August … and as the years passed, I got to relive these traditions with my son Brian, who is now grown,” she said.

Barbara Berkowitz’s good wishes for a new school year extends to all of Great Neck’s students and their families: “For all of you with children, grandchildren and neighbors getting ready for the opening of school, I hope that you will encourage their excitement and remind them of the joy that comes with new beginnings. And to all our wonderful staff: I know I speak for the entire board when I say that we thank you for your extreme dedication and welcome having another year to observe the ‘magic’ you perform in our buildings on a daily basis!”

And, oh yes, leaving no stone unturned, Ms. Berkowitz urges everyone to start the new school year off happily and safely: “May I also urge you all to remember to please drive carefully!”