Ending on a positive note

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Central Avenue celebrates one final field day

Central Avenue Elementary School parent Tim Clark douses students with water during the school’s annual field day on June 7 at the school in Naugatuck. The Board of Education voted to close Central Avenue next school year as a way to reduce an increase in the board’s budget.

NAUGATUCK — On a hot, sunny afternoon, Central Avenue Elementary School students dunked teachers and parents in a dunk tank, threw footballs, splashed each other with water, and ate hamburgers and hot dogs.

It was all part of the annual field day barbeque the school has held every year right before classes let out for the summer.

This year, however, was special because it was the last one before the school closes up and reopens as a preschool next year.

Central Avenue Principal Evelyn Gobstein explained the school is not having one specific party to close out the school. Rather, the teachers, parents, and staff are adding some extra touches to events that are already planned.

For the barbeque on June 7, parents bought the students t-shirts that read “Field Day. Let the games begin!” Each grade had its own color shirt.

Central Avenue fourth-grader Cedreya Lanier takes time to pose for the camera during an egg race. The race was one of 18 game stations at the school’s annual field day on June 7.

The event was run by parent volunteers and the food was donated by the Naugatuck school system’s food services provider, Sodexo.

“There are over 50 volunteers here,” Physical education teacher Sean Warren said.

Both parents and teachers were leading games at 18 game stations set up in and around Central Avenue.

Michelle Grella, who is the head of Central’s parent group, explained they are not focusing on the school closing, but rather focusing on keeping everything upbeat and positive.

“We’re trying to get through the year, ending on a positive note and keeping the students on a positive note,” Grella said.

She said, as the year comes to a close, the students are being brought on tours of their new schools to make them familiar with where they will be going next year.

Central Avenue second-grader Jordan McCann bowls in the school’s parking lot during the annual field day June 7. -LUKE MARSHALL

Parents also were given the opportunity to come visit their child’s new school during the parent open house nights.

Both Central and Prospect Street School are set to be closed at the end of this school year due to a falling student population and budgetary constraints.

The Prospect Street School building, which currently houses the borough’s Head Start Program, will remain closed. Central will reopen as the new home of the Head Start Program and other preschool programs.

The Board of Education’s original proposed budget, which included keeping Central and Prospect Street School open, would have been a 9 percent raise over this year’s budget. After a series of budget reductions and cuts, the Board of Education received a 2 percent increase for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

However, during the barbeque, budgets and closings were the farthest things from the minds of students and adults as teachers climbed into the dunk tank, rubber frogs were flung onto mats, and hamburgers were eaten.

“We’re trying to make it a special memory for the students,” Gobstein said.

See more photos from field day here.