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“It was such a privilege to welcome 238 students to West Side, where we celebrate the long history of our school which opened its doors 231 years ago! Each year, tradition is paramount with the “ringing of the school bell” which can be heard in every corner of the building. This moment was always shared with the former principal, Ted Hilton, who came to West Side each opening day long after he retired. He then joined the students at assembly sharing stories and helping to launch the new year. Since Mr. Hilton's passing last year, we are extremely fortunate to continue this tradition with two former teachers: Dr. Bonnie Dawkins and Mr. Scott Bowden, who stepped up sharing history and introducing West Side's September word ‘wonder’ at the start of the 2021 school year. I want to thank everyone involved in the planning of the 9/11 Remembrance Event on Seahawk field. I was a teacher in NYC schools on that day twenty years ago, and the complexity of this topic is a challenging one to teach to our young children. This amazing opportunity for not only our students, but our entire community of families, teachers and staff, provided a comforting unity for the school to come together for discussions, read-alouds, and shared moments of learning about what it means to be a citizen and live in a democracy. I want to thank the Board of Education for their constant support, the PTG for not only the surprise breakfast on the first day of school, but their support all year, and the staff for the tremendous amount of work it takes to prepare the building for reopening each September. Student council representatives gave their annual building tours for new families and regaled all with their knowledge and love of West Side. Superintendent's Conference Day provided teachers with wonderful professional development to support our community building and positive school culture. Outdoor learning is up and running, lunches are back outside once again alfresco, and specials are back in their own classrooms! The energy is so positive. It’s a joy to be back!”