Around Town

The end of an unusual school year

Westfield principals share thoughts, images from the final week of school

Tina Howe, Secretary at Juniper Park, Russell Elementary, and Franklin Avenue who will be retiring at the end of June. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS SUBMITTED PHOTO FRANKLIN AVENUE)

WESTFIELD – As the memorable and COVID-19 challenged 2019-2020 school year came to an end on June 23, The Westfield News asked the principals of Westfield’s public schools about their closing activities, and if they had any parting words to share with the community,

Principal Stacy Burgess,  Abner Gibbs Elementary School:

“This certainly has been a challenging time. I would like to say thank you to our families and teachers first. This was not an easy task for families to abruptly become their child’s teacher and have to work from home and be a teacher at the same time. A huge thank you to families for keeping their child engaged in learning, and for working with us during this unprecedented time. This was difficult for all involved, but we are stronger together. I also want to express my gratitude to my teachers for taking on remote learning and hitting it out of the park. Teachers at Abner Gibbs worked incredibly hard to engage and connect with families, continue to keep routines as best we could and provide online instruction to our students. I am proud of the work my teachers have done during this time.”

Ms. Eak says farewell to Chloe Fisher, a fourth grader, who will be moving onto WIS. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS SUBMITTED PHOTO – FRANKLIN AVE)

Principal Chris A. Tolpa,  Franklin Avenue Elementary School:

“Through this entire pandemic, our Franklin Family supported and encouraged one another each day. Teachers went above and beyond; parents sent notes of thanks for guidance; and everyone pulled together to ensure we gave our best. I have never been more proud of my staff and families, who, in 72 hours, learned, adapted and adjusted to remote learning and found silver linings along the way. Our staff cannot wait for the return of our children, and we will meet each and every one of them where they are in their learning.”


Principal Melanie Chasse,  Paper Mill Elementary School:

Chasse said they held a wra- up event for grade 4 students and parents on June 16. She also noted that they are saying goodbye to Martha Roman, who is retiring this year from the Westfield Public Schools after 30+ years. “She has had over 500 students and families over her career here,” Chasse said.

Southampton Road graduation drive by June 21. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS SUBMITTED PHOTO SOUTHAMPTON ROAD)

Principal Kathleen M. O’Donnell,  Southampton Road Elementary  School:

“The end of the year is bittersweet as we say goodbye to students via Zoom and the car parade for 4th grade. We miss the children and having them with us, but look forward to the end of this virtual community. The teachers are exhausted and have never worked harder or longer hours ever in their careers. Teaching remote did not maintain the same hours as a regular school day as the teachers worked with parents seven days a week at all hours of the day and night to support remote learning. We want to thank the parents for stepping up to take on the challenge of facilitating the learning at home. This pandemic caught us off guard and we were all on a learning curve. We all hope for a smooth transition into the fall whatever it brings us.”

Southampton Road School graduation drive by June 22. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS SUBMITTED PHOTO _ SOUTHAMPTON ROAD SCHOOL)

Principal Katherine Bourque, Westfield Intermediate School:

Westfield Intermediate held a Summer Send off parade on June 21. “It was wonderful to be able to see so many families after being remote for so long. Our students are participating in a virtual field day experience today and tomorrow to close the year.”

Westfield Intermediate School Summer Send Off Parade. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS SUBMITTED PHOTO – WIS)

The Westfield Intermediate School Music Department waves goodbye at the summer send off parade on June 21. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS SUBMITTED PHOTO – WIS)


Incoming Principal Jessica Kennedy, Westfield Middle School:

“Here is what we have done to honor our 8th graders as we close out the school year:

Eighth Grade End-of-the-Year Virtual Recorded Ceremony: We will share this with students and families on the last day of school, and it mimics what would typically have been done in our gym on the last day of school. The program is identical to last year’s, just done virtually including student speeches, administration speeches, awards, student performances, and more! Lauren Figy, 7-12 Science Coordinator compiled and edited the 8th Grade Graduation video. We are very grateful to her for her hard work!

Eighth Grade National Junior Honor Society Virtual Celebration: Mrs. Tesko, Ms. Palmer, and NJHS Student Leadership coordinated a video to replicate the banquet that students were not able to have to celebrate their work in NJHS!

Eighth Grade Banner: We had a banner made for the 8th grade that has been on display for the students coming in to clean out lockers. Parents have been taking pictures with it! 🙂

Yearbooks: We were able to still finish our yearbook, and students were able to order copies. They will be delivered to the school sometime in the summer. We will hand them out to students similar to the chromebook distribution if we still have restrictions limiting our ability to host a larger group of people at that time.

Eileen Lynch, 7th Grade Science Teacher at WMS, also designed a 7th and 8th grade WMS Slideshow that will also be shared with students and parents on June 23.”

Abigail and Michael Dorunga, graduating eighth graders at Westfield Middle School. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Retiring Westfield Middle School Principal Paul K. Newton:
“My time in Westfield was wonderful and I’m so very impressed by our staff at Westfield Middle School. These past 3 months have been very trying for teachers and students alike. Without any prior training we, all of a sudden, expected teachers to teach in a very different manner and we expected students to learn in a different way as well. I believe that we all made the best of the situation that we were given. This endeavor certainly showcased the flexibility and creativity of our teachers and the adaptability of our student learners. I hope and pray that all of the members of our Westfield Middle School family continue to remain safe and healthy over these next few months as we hold out hope for a normal opening (or as close to normal as possible) of school in the fall.

Jeremy Toomey, graduating eighth grader at Westfield Middle School. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS SUBMITTED PHOTO – WMS)

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