CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report incorrectly reported that Statesville High would begin the new school year earlier than other schools. Statesville High will begin classes on August 23.
BY KARISSA MILLER
N.B. Mills Elementary School is getting a head start on the 2021-2022 school year and implementing an innovative school calendar in an effort to close student learning gaps.
Principal Jonathan Nicastro believes the new calendar will give N.B. students an edge.
“We started having those conversations and realized if we went to a year-round calendar … it would be a lot easier to catch them up,” he explained. “We kept the same number of school days, but what we did is spread out those breaks through the school year.”
N.B. Mills students will return to the classroom on August 3, while the district’s official start date is August 23.
Nicastro is confident that the change will prevent struggling students from suffering from the summer slide, which was amplified for some students during the COVID-19 pandemic that kept many students from benefiting from traditional instruction.
Under the new calendar, students will have three “intercession breaks” during the school year. These breaks are the days that student would normally have had off from the summer break, but are spread out during the school year.
N.B. Mills run a regular bell schedule, offer breakfast and lunch, and provide school bus transportation during intercession for participating students.
If students choose to participate, they will come to school and can receive remediation in math and reading or enrichment lessons, depending on the needs of the student. The remediation schedule will be from 7:35 a.m. to around 10:30 a.m.
For the rest of the day, Nicastro wanted to do something special for his students.
“Since they aren’t in school (for a normal school day) we can expose them to some pretty neat things that they aren’t normally exposed to,” Nicastro explained.
The school has partnered with different groups in the community to provide a vacation-like experience for all of their students.
This will include things like a Vacation Bible School, swimming lessons with the YMCA, a camp promoting a healthy body and mind.
During each intercession, the nonprofit Speak Life will host confidence-building sessions for 80 students. Nicastro said that the group will teach students soft skills, such as hand shaking and good eye contact.
He’s also excited about students participating in a theater camp. N.B. Mills has a massive auditorium, he said, they will put on a performance for parents at the end of the week.
Restart School Flexibilities
According to Executive Director of Elementary Education Jonathan Ribbeck, N.B. Mills can revamp its calendar because of its status as a Restart school.
Ribbeck said that about four years ago, the state allowed schools that met certain criteria to apply to be Restart schools. N.B. Mills was named a restart school.
“What that does is it gives schools more flexibilities than other schools have. Each year, they have to come up with a Restart plan. They have charter-like flexibilities and don’t have to follow the state calendar law because they are a Restart,” Ribbeck said.
N.B. Mills is the only school that has adopted an innovative calendar.
“I’m just excited that they are expending their flexibility to really help their students. We really think this will help with the new calendar,” Ribbeck said.