By Benjamin Joe
The Town of Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District will be opening to students on Tuesday, Sept. 3, but for Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich, the journey has already begun.
The week before school opens is a week of intense teamwork and coordination for the entire staff. Ljiljanich spoke to the Tribune about some of the changes in his district, which comprises of the Town of Wheatfield, Town of Niagara, Town of Lewiston, and the Town of Cambria. This includes Colonial Village, West Street, Errick Road, and the Tuscarora Indian elementary schools, as well as Edward Town middle school and Niagara-Wheatfield High School.
“We’re coming to the end of an $18 million capital project,” Ljiljanich said. “That capital project work, the areas of the largest focus at the tail end of this project is Errick Road Elementary School. There’s a parking lot that was put across the street, also the entire parking lot around the building. The front of the building was also being reconstructed.”
The reason behind the new entrance way is safety, Ljiljanich said, the new entrance way will have double-doors and the person letting visitors in will have direct sight of any person in the entranceway to the school.
“That was all restructured, as was the office area to accommodate this,” he said. “That’s Errick Road, that’s the big stuff there. If you move over, to maybe the most exciting part of the project, the new science classrooms at Edward Town Middle School are being redone. The current classrooms are as old as the building, so these are going to be brought up to the STEAM level; the science, technology, engineering, arts, math; they were built with that in mind. We’re excited to see the finished project; they’re finishing them up right now as we speak. The floors are put in, they’re putting the ceilings in; it’ll be ready for the start of school.”
Another aspect for the student benefit is the continued participation in WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) for Edward Town Middle School.
“The WEB program is designed for our incoming middle school students. It’s kind of like a year long orientation,” Ljiljanich said. “The upperclassmen, the eighth graders, pair up with them throughout the year.”
The superintendent was also excited to talk about a speaker who instructed the staff on the subject of trauma.
“Dr. Darryl Tonemah, he is a national speaker on, and researches in the area of trauma, historical trauma and how trauma affects people, and how it affects them even down the generations,” Ljiljanich said. “He’ll do some practical applications on how educators, people who work with children, can notice that trauma, and when somebody is maybe being affected by something that was traumatic for them, then know how to practically address it ... Darryl has been doing this for years, he’s been working with our students. He’s done some work with our Tuscarora students and community. He’s really one of the known people in that field.”
As an administrator and before that, a teacher, Ljiljanich said that the beginning of each year is incredible.
“It’s a really exciting thing,” Ljiljanich said. “It’s probably the neatest thing about the profession. Every year is new. When students walk in the door there’s excitement, there’s nervousness, there’s apprehension, and staff members get to welcome or re-welcome people back to the building every single year, and that’s that whole blank slate, tabula rasa, and you get to walk in and experience this day which is the beginning of this year for the first time.”
Students will go back to school Tuesday, Sept. 3.