An Independent Weekly Newspaper
Volume 21 Number 7 September 3, 2010 18 Pages Smooth Start for Litchfield Schools
by Lynne Ober Back-to-school was smooth. Buses
arrived on time and were filled with students who were eager for the first day of classes. According to Litchfield Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler, 1,600 students were registered to begin school. “We had calls from parents before
school alerting us to the fact that the parents would be on vacation and the child would begin next week,” said Cutler.
At Griffin Memorial School (GMS), Principal Bo Schlichter was very pleased with the smooth beginning to the school year. GMS currently has an enrollment of 545 students, including 78 kindergarten students, but Schlichter expects the number will go up after Labor Day. “I know there are a few students who are still on vacation and will begin school next week, but overall, we were all very pleased with the first day of school,” he said.
Cutler said that 19 pre-school students who will attend GMS next year had opted to begin school after Labor Day. GMS has two fewer teachers this
year. “We knew that enrollment was down, so we adjusted the number of teachers that we had,” stated Schlichter. “We have one less fourth- grade teacher and one less first- grade teacher. We did this because enrollments for those two classes were down from the previous year and we were able to do this using normal attrition patterns rather than giving a teacher a pink slip.” At Litchfield Middle School, there are approximately 525 students and each is being asked to follow the school motto of “Do Your Best.” “Our slogan ‘Do Your Best’ sums up our expectation for students to enter the building each day
with a positive attitude toward their learning,” said Principal Tom Lecklider, “and we believe that each student can achieve that. We want to fill them with enough enthusiasm to do just that as the year goes along. We will be focusing on promoting positive interactions amongst students and reducing student conflict. John Halligan, nationally renowned speaker on the topic of Student Conflict and Bullying Prevention, will be a guest speaker to parents and students at a community event on January 27th.” The middle school was projected
to have 520 students, but had a few more register before school started. As a result, Cutler said she was not surprised the enrollment at LMS was slightly higher than projected. Lecklider said that the biggest class at the middle school was the seventh grade with 155 pupils. This is closely followed by both the fifth- and eighth- grade classes. As a result of steady enrollment, staffing levels at the middle school remained the same. The enrollment at Campbell High
School will be taken again next week. “Although we took attendance as soon as school started, we know that we missed two groups of students,” said Cutler. Some students had requested immediate schedule changes and went to have that taken care of instead of going to the first period where enrollment was taken. The second group of students had late arrival and wasn’t counted in the first- period attendance. The school district had project 540 students at Campbell and had 530 pre-registered students. As Cutler pointed out, the only enrollment figure that matters is the enrollment figure taken on October 1 of each year. “The state uses the number of students enrolled on that
Governor Lynch Visits Hills Garrison
by Lynne Ober On the first day of school, Governor
John Lynch made a visit to Hills Garrison Elementary School. Superintendent Randy Bell and Principal Marilyn Martellini were on hand to greet the Governor shortly after the first day of school started. The Governor immediately sat in a very tiny
chair and began talking with the kindergarten students. After he’d spoken with each child, he got to participate in an interactive story time. The Governor was given the Yellow School Bus puppet while the children each had a different puppet. “Here comes the school bus. Beep. Beep.
Beep. Everyone take a seat,” began the story. Governor Lynch obligingly drove his school bus puppet across the storyboard. “A goat in his coat is riding the bus,” continued the story, and students with the goat puppet stood up and showed how they rode the bus. After the story was over, the governor told Superintendent Bell that it was his first time to be a school bus.
After visiting both kindergarten classrooms,
the governor spoke with fourth graders who were preparing to go outside for recess, and then visited the fifth graders who were eating lunch in the cafeteria.
It was a great start for both
Litchfield’s and Hudson’s schools. Pictured above is Nicole Morency and her children: kindergartener Owen,
Gedi (stroller), and Jacob, who are on their way to a brand-new year at Hills Garrison
date as a basis for calculating state aid,” she smiled.
Cutler credited the very qualified administrative staff in Litchfield for helping to get school off to a positive start. “We have an excellent staff with a very positive outlook, and that helps when dealing with unexpected details. It was a good start for us and we are looking forward to a very good year,” she said.
Governor Lynch at Hills Garrison’s fifth-grade lunch
Writer’s note: Necole Tompkins and her husband, Mike, contacted the Hudson~Litchfield News in an effort to share with the community what has been going on in their lives since the death of their 11-year-old son, Zach. Zach’s death stung the community of Hudson, and the community has come together to build a football stadium in his honor. Necole offered the Hudson~Litchfield News full access to their beautiful home, including Zach’s bedroom, as well as many hours of sharing— sharing memories, sharing the anguish, sharing love.
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What follows tells the story; not of a life that ended too soon, but how young Zach passed away, the challenges
that now face the family, and what the community of Hudson has meant to the Tompkins family. This story was written as a collaborative effort between myself and Necole during the past couple of weeks. –Doug Robinson, Area News Group
‘He Never Gave Up, and Neither Will We’
by Doug Robinson and Necole Tompkins “For the past few weeks at night, I lie in my late son Zachary’s bed and read. While reading, I find my mind wandering and look around Zach’s room from his 11-year-old perspective. I find myself looking at what he looked at, and I try to see things as he saw them through his eyes. I noticed that each night before he closed his eyes, the last thing he looked at was the 40-inch by 15-inch framed picture of Gillette Stadium. To the right of the picture of Gillette Stadium are personally autographed pictures of New England Patriots. On the wall to the left of the Gillette Stadium picture, the side to which Zach fell asleep each night, are more Patriots pictures and a perfectly folded Patriots stadium blanket “just the way he left it,” comments Necole Tompkins, mom to Zachary. We call him Zach. As Necole continued, “Above that neatly folded bright blue, white, and red Patriots blanket, mid-way up the light blue wall, I also notice his favorite book sitting atop the shelf. The book cover always has faced his bed. He did that so he could always see the cover jacket. The shelf is slightly higher than my 11-year-old football player stood, and I can still see him reaching up for the book, just as he reached for the sky in life. He always reached out to others, to his siblings, coaches, as well as me and Mike [Tompkins].”
“He begged Santa for that book, Never Give
Up, by Tedy Bruschi and then he eagerly read every page of it,” continued Necole with a broken voice and with tears running down her face. It was time for us to take a break. We drank our water, played with the dog, and then returned to our talk. Tedy Bruschi’s book, Never Give Up, speaks
of courage, commitment, teamwork, and compassion, which, ironically enough, were all traits Zachary encompassed himself. Never Give Up focuses on the positives in life, as well as how to deal with those negatives of life that haunt us all. “Today, we as a family are beginning to learn and understand what Zach already knew at his tender age of 11. By more fully understanding his life and his loves, we are learning how to never give up,” continued Necole. Today, five months have passed since Zachary
Tompkins passed away in his sleep. “I still believe Zachary did not leave me. He is with me always and Jesus did not ‘take’ Zach; Jesus received Zach,” said Necole. “I know, with all of my heart, Zachary is doing something great—something very special. He had a bigger purpose to fulfill. Mike and I are so lucky to be Zach’s parents, even if was just for a short time.” “Zach never gave up on anything in life.
Zach lived his life as a positive reflection of his classmates, his community, his church, his sports
buddies, his brothers, and of his parents,” said Necole. Remembering the advice once given to her by Zach, fifth-grade Presentation of Mary Academy student, friend, and classmate Ashley Eppolito writes, “Be happy, you never know what tomorrow might bring. There’s no such thing as a bad day, because you never know a bad day until it meets you.” All who knew Zachary comment as to how much of a happy child Zachary was. He always had a smile on his face. He would let his brothers win at video games while laughing because their feelings were more important to him than his winning the game. He was always teaching how to never give up. On the football field, he fought fierce. And
then, when his opponent was knocked down in the mud while he stood above, he would always reach out a helping hand to assist the opposing player up. For the past months, the community of Hudson
has rallied around the Tompkins family, offering support and comfort. Hudson has come together as a family, continuing to never give up, and as the Tompkins family has grieved, so has the Hudson community.
As the family struggles with sending off to
school two children instead of three, they now face the reality of having recently learned the cause of Zach’s sudden and unexpected passing. Necole has made it her mission to maintain open and honest communication, as well as awareness to all of Zachary’s supporters and the community of Hudson. Never to give up also means in the sharing of the news of how Zach passed away, and what lies ahead for the Tompkins family.
Zachary passed away from a condition referred to as Long QT Syndrome Type 2 (LQT-2). LQT-2 is purely a cardiac electrophysiologic disorder characterized
by a heartbeat that does not act normally. Those who suffer with this genetic mutation may be faced with a sudden, fast, erratic, and chaotic heartbeat. These rapid heartbeats may trigger a sudden fainting spell. These fainting spells are typically precipitous and without any warning. In some cases, your heart may beat erratically for so long that it can cause sudden death. Rarely, LQT-2 may occur during sleep or arousal from sleep. Over 300 variations of LQT-
2 have been documented, and those affected by this disease do not know they have the disease
until some type of disaster has occurred. Once diagnosed with the mutant DNA gene that causes LQT-2, medication is available to treat the condition. Many people with LQT-2 do not have any signs or symptoms.
continued to page 8- Never Gave Up
On the shelf to the right of his bed rests Zach’s favorite book, Never Give Up by Tedy Bruschi
Zachary Tompkins, showing that “never-give-up” attitude
staff photo by Jeff Rodgers
staff photo by Lynne Ober
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