Sage Park named 'Middle School of the Year'

By Jennifer Coe
Windsor - posted Wed., Oct. 23, 2013
Sage Park leaders celebrated the awarding of the Connecticut Association of Schools Middle School of the Year award on October 18.  Pictured are Ellen Cohn, State Dept. of Education, Principal Paul Cavaliere, Assistant Principal Liana Jorgensen, Earle Bidwell, CAS representative and Assistant Principal William Fisher. Photos by Jennifer Coe.
Sage Park leaders celebrated the awarding of the Connecticut Association of Schools Middle School of the Year award on October 18. Pictured are Ellen Cohn, State Dept. of Education, Principal Paul Cavaliere, Assistant Principal Liana Jorgensen, Earle Bidwell, CAS representative and Assistant Principal William Fisher. Photos by Jennifer Coe.

The Connecticut Association of Schools has named Sage Park Middle School the Middle School of the Year, 2013-2014.  In a show of local pride, the entire student body, educators, and politicians held a ceremony in honor of this achievement on Oct.18.

“Over the past few years, student scores have consistently risen for every grade level, every subgroup,” said Principal Paul Cavaliere.  “We have emphasized raising the standards of behavior with the Positive Behaviors Intervention and Support program (PBIS),” he said. “The students have had to buy into it, and they have.”  Cavaliere cited the fact that less kids have been removed from class, which results in students being more successful, proof of the programs’ efficaciousness. Also, an incentive program called VIP has been instituted where students earn the right to wear a bracelet which allows them certain privileges within the building.  “It fosters a sense of belonging in the school,” said Cavaliere.

Sage Park actually beat out all 150 competitors in the areas which the Connecticut Association of Schools lays out annually.  They include things like evidence of a safe and healthy school environment, evidence that the school involves parents and the community in supporting student learning and healthy development and a researched based curriculum with appropriate assessment grounded in standards, instructional methods and strategies designed to prepare students to meet high standards.

To win the award, middle schools must submit a detailed application and participate in on-site visits where classes are observed by a CAS committee member. Ellen Cohn, the Division Director of the Academic Office in the State Department of Education described her experience walking into Sage Park for the first time. “The warmth and welcome-ness and inclusiveness…that’s hard to find sometimes in a middle school,” she said. “I applaud all of your teachers.”

Students got their chance to speak up about what makes Sage Park such a great school as well.  “Our school is pleasant inside and out,” said Gianna Wood.  “I love how the school offers so many extra-curricular activities,” she said. 
“We had to look at things that make you stand out,” said Earl Bidwell from the CAS committee. “Your curriculum and school climate, etcetera.”

“This educational point in your lives is so important because the life lessons you are absorbing - what you do, by what you do for each other – that sense of belonging together is so very important,” said U. S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.  “I would much rather be here than anywhere else,” he added.

Cavaliere feels this win will probably increase pride in the community. 

“Working together, getting along, communication…[those in Washington] could learn a few things by coming to Sage Park,” said Blumenthal to thunderous applause.


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