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The Westbury Times - Schools

Back To School

With the beginning of school right around the corner, we asked several people to share their favorite back to school memory, as well as their advice for making the school year a success. Several suggested getting to know your school building ahead of time and making sure to eat healthy. Other helpful tips included getting a good night of sleep and having a curious spirit. What’s your favorite back to school memory or piece of advice for our kids going back to school? Let us know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


My best advice for those getting ready to return to school is to prepare for the early morning wake-up call by getting to bed a little earlier each night starting about two weeks before coming back to school. This will help you get up in time for a healthy breakfast before classes resume. The sunrise for September 9 (the first day of school for Carle Place) is just about 6:30 a.m., so it may be dark when you get out of bed that morning!

Probably my favorite back-to-school memory is a great neighborhood tradition. I was lucky enough to grow up in a neighborhood with many friends who were just about my age. On the last Saturday night before school opened, we would organize a huge game of “ring-o-levio.” It was very similar to “manhunt” that some of my kids play today! There were as many as 40 kids involved in the game at any one time, and one game could last for several hours. 

-Dave Flatley, Superintendent of Carle Place School District 

My advice is that students, especially in high school and college should use the new school year to try to learn about some things that they always wanted to know about but never had the time to study.  If they are reading a particular book that interests them, do a little background research about the author or the time period.  If they are learning in history about a particular event or period, pick a person, or a few, from that time period or event and try to discern how their unique perspective(s) shaped how the events unfolded.  This kind of inquiry leads to a more interesting study, and enriches your understanding of the subject. 


I recall how it felt that summer lasted so long, but as school approached, I would wait with anticipation (and sometimes fear) to see who our teachers would be (it usually turned out OK).  I also looked forward to always seeing my school friends again after the long summer.  It was nice to hear what they had done, or the places they had gone.


-Peter Cavallaro, Mayor of Westbury 

My advice for students preparing for a new school year is to take advantage of a “clean slate”, a fresh start, a time to correct the mistakes made last year and build on the lessons learned. I remember feeling this every year and it helped with my approach to a new school year.  For those starting school for the first time(Pre-K and Kindergarten......just have fun and listen to your teachers!


My “back to school” memory was the excitement of waiting to see who was in you class on the first day.  I couldn’t wait to see everyone after the summer break. 


-Rodney Caines, Westbury 


Board of Education President 

My favorite back to school memory is going to Palisades Park, in New Jersey, during the Labor Day weekend. My friends and I would take the subway to the bus terminal at 181st Street in Manhattan and take the bus to the amusement park, where we’d spend a full day. You had to pay for each ride and, by the end of the day, more often than not, we didn’t have money left to take the bus back, so we would walk to the George Washington Bridge and go across on foot, then we would walk on Riverside Drive back to

our neighborhood. You can imagine we were quite tired after a day of rides, sodas, park food and swimming in the wave pool. We would then share our tales with classmates during lunch on the first week of school.


One of the biggest transitions for students is that leap from middle school to high school, where they take more personal responsibilities in the choices they make. Get to know your new school by visiting it and familiarizing yourself with the building and grounds. High school offers an opportunity to have a new beginning and get on track. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask. If you are in doubt about something, ask. 


Education and socialization go hand in hand. Aim high by taking challenging courses. Work hard to get on the Honor Roll. Get involved by joining a club, activity or sport. Be proud of your school and show it by wearing the school colors, by attending plays, concerts, sporting events and by comporting yourself in a mature way when not in school.

Get to know your counselor because he or she will be your anchor for four years. Be a good role model through your work and actions.


-Manny Arias, Westbury

High School principal 

It is perfectly normal to feel nervous on the first day of school. Getting back to the school routine and adjusting to new workloads takes some getting used to after a long summer break. Meeting new people or getting reacquainted with classmates can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re the shy/reserved type. Start small: If large groups make you nervous, try saying hello to one or two new people a day—the kid at the desk next to yours in homeroom is a good place to start. If you still feel uncomfortable after a few days, talk to the school guidance counselor, a social worker, a favorite teacher, or someone else you trust about how you’re feeling and what you can do. But give yourself time — most problems adjusting to school are only temporary.  Take advantage of those times during the school day when you’re not in class: This can include reviewing notes, going to the library or computer lab, getting a head-start on your homework, or researching that big term paper. 


Please note that school is a time to make friends and try new things, but it’s also a place to learn skills like organization and decision making that will come in handy for the rest of your life.


-Jorge Santiago Jr., Director of Special Education for the Westbury School District. 

Each school year provides students with an opportunity to start fresh with new teachers. My advice would be to Focus: Set short and long term goals for the school year ( academic grades, participation in school/community activities, and staying organized). Organize: Establishing good study skills and time management skills to ensure academic success. Create: Develop good note taking skills and plan a consistent study, homework, and free time schedule. Unite: Work to support a positive school environment and get invovled! Socialize: Establish a study group among your peers to enhance the learning experience outside of the classroom. 


My favorite back to school memory was picking out the “first day of school outfit”. I always wanted to make a great first impression. I also enjoyed preparing my back pack with the new supplies and notebooks. Shopping is always fun when you are a kid.


-Deadra Faulkner, Director of Guidance for the Westbury School District