NEW LONDON -- “I feel more energized and excited for the year to begin maybe than I have ever felt,” said Beth Perkins, fifth grade teacher, during the Kearsarge Regional School District School Board meeting on Thursday.

Perkins also said many her colleagues feel the same.

Her praise sprung from several days of meetings between staff and faculty in preparation for the new school year.

Part of the training included Caring School Community, a nationally recognized program designed to promote social and emotional learning skills.

Kearsarge is taking advantage of the program at the elementary level, but the district is researching how to expand it to the middle school.

“The number one thing schools can do to prevent school shootings is social and emotional learning curriculum,” Assistant Superintendent Michael Bessette explained.

Bringing the training to the district was a teacher-driven and leadership-supported endeavor. The cost was covered by grants.

“At the end of day, the trainers from Caring School Community said that Kearsarge has some of the nicest, most considerate group of elementary teachers they have ever encountered,” Bessette said. “What a kudos to the faculty.”

In the week leading up to the new school year, the district also revealed the word of the year: “engage.”

“There are many ways to be engaged, and I would invite everyone of us in Kearsarge to find our own,” said Superintendent Winfried Feneberg.

Feneberg reported that the district leaders spent time getting to know one another and defining their mission during an administrative retreat.

“I’m feeling very blessed with the administrative team we have gathered,” he said.

It was especially important for the team to get together as there are six new administrators in the district. New principals have held meetings with the public to introduce themselves to the community.

In addition to some new faces, a host of campus improvements will greet students across the district.

Among other projects, the high school track and tennis courts are being redone. A new basketball court has also been installed at KRES-New London.

And thanks to a group of parents, teachers and school board members, the student restrooms in the middle school have fresh paint.

The eight bathrooms are now adorned with positive messages. One reads, “Be the reason someone smiles today.”

The “Bathroom Blitz” project originated from the middle school PTO. School board member Bebe Casey thanked Patty Bechok for organizing it, as well as Megan Cardillo for painting.

During the school board meeting, Feneberg reported that the district enrollment sits at 1,740 students, though this number will change throughout the next few weeks.

“We know from the National School Development Council projections that we are expected to be relatively stable the next few years,” said Feneberg.

While all the professional positions have been filled, there are a few paraprofessional positions are open.

The board also approved a list of school board goals on Thursday night that reaffirmed its commitment to retaining high-quality staff, involving families and maintaining high quality learning environments.

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