By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — WILMINGTON — Lake Placid’s four new administrators are circling through schools and town centers, meeting with students and parents.
This year, all three principal’s offices have new faces, with long-time former Lake Placid guidance counselor Dr. Roger Catania returning as interim superintendent.
Catania put a group of parents and their children at ease quickly at the gathering here on Monday.
“I’m the veteran, with three months on the job,” he quipped.
The other administrators started working together on July 1.
‘GOOD TO BE HERE’
Lake Placid High School Principal Dana Wood, Middle School Principal Theresa Lindsay and Elementary School Principal Brian Latella spent more than an hour and a half discussing the upcoming school year.
Latella said he had been commuting early in the summer but has since found a house in Lake Placid with his wife, Melissa, and their two sons.
“It feels good to be here, full time, with the whole family,” he said with a big smile.
At the High School, Principal Dana Wood is bringing 16 years as a high-school teacher and several more as former dean of students in the Saranac Lake Central School District.
And Theresa Lindsay had taught kindergarten for five years and literacy in Westport for five years before serving as principal of Bloomingdale Elementary school.
Catania said he was glad to return to Lake Placid after attaining his doctorate at the University of Virginia. He spent the past year teaching at Alfred University in the program for teachers.
“Part of the enjoyment of it all, is working with these three,” he said, pointing to the new leadership team.
Parents launched a few questions, one asking if the school has hired a new fourth-grade teacher yet.
“We held interviews, and a candidate is being presented to the School Board on Sept. 3 for approval,” Latella replied.
“There definitely will be a teacher,” he said. “I would rest assured.”
Another parent asked if the Elementary School playground has been reopened.
For the past two years, Paw Print Park has had limited use while the school redesigned features blamed for injuries to two students during recess.
“The playground is open,” Latella said. “I’ve been on it quite a few times and tried the fire pole.”
He also said the new outdoor classroom is also open and was used during summer school.
Catania asked the students what they were most excited about for this year.
Emma Andragna, 9, said gym class is tops on her list, especially playing freeze tag.
“How do you get unfrozen?” the Latella asked the fourth-grader.
“You tag them,” she said.
Justin Briggs, 13, said he is ready for advanced math class this year.
“I’m excited about it,” he offered.
His brother Colin, 17, who is a senior this year, laughed when Catania asked if June 27 (graduation) is the most exciting thing ahead.
“It’s different than the rest of high school,” the teen surmised.
The new superintendent also asked students what worried them most about returning to school.
The kids didn’t express loud or overarching concerns.
But the Wilmington parents said the afternoon bus route — served by a single bus — is often overcrowded with a blend of both older and younger children.
The long bus ride home also hinders access to after-school activities, the parents agreed, because their children are tired from the early morning bus departure.
Catania said they were looking at the bus routes with transportation personnel and would evaluate options for Wilmington students.
Several parents asked if the school was going to continue exploring cafeteria food and menu improvements.
The interim superintendent explained the school has had two food service directors leave in the last three years, but that they planned to pick up from the work already accomplished.
INDIVIDUAL SKILL SETS
The three principals said they have spent time the past three months revising the Lake Placid Student Handbook to reflect a continuum from elementary through high-school grades.
Lindsay said the process drew strengths from their individual skill sets.
“The students are the most important part of the school district,” Latella said.
“We welcome any advice they might have for us as we move through the school year.”
Email Kim Smith Dedam: firstname.lastname@example.org
MEET THE TEAM
Lake Placid Central School administrators have two additional community meet-and-greet sessions planned: 6 to 7:30 tonight in the Community Room at Lake Placid Elementary School; and 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday in the Middle/High School foyer. Sept. 5 is the first day of school.