School bells were ringing Tuesday morning for thousands of Western New York children who started a new school year. In Buffalo, public school officials led invited guests on a tour of a handful of schools, hoping to show them how the dollars secured from their respective governments are impacting the students.
Tours were held at four schools in different sectors of the city. Superintendent Kriner Cash and School Board president Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold appeared at all four, joined at individual stops by various elected officials from local and state governments. At Hillery Park Elementary School, they were joined by Common Councilmember Christopher Scanlon and State Assemblyman Michael Kearns.
Cash explained that bringing elected officials on the tours gave them the opportunity to put faces to the dollars they work to secure.
"They see what their investment is yielding," Cash said. "They fight hard for the money that comes to us, from the state in particular and of course what local officials provide. They're seeing the fruits of their work in action. There's nothing more precious than to see young people learning."
Leading the tour at Hillery Park Elementary was the school's principal, Vincent Vanderlip. He spoke of ideal class sizes and also of his school's very high retention rate. In one fourth grade class, when asked how many had attended the school the year before, all but one child held up their hands.
"It's important to us. We believe deeply in the school community and what we provide here at Hillery Park Elementary," Vanderlip said. "We are Home of the Huskies. We want our students to feel right at home when they walk through the door."
Eighth graders who also participated on the tour insisted on bringing the delegation to the school's art room. When asked why, they explained "this is where we get to express ourselves."
Other tour stops included Bennett High School, the Native American Magnet at 97 on West Delevan Avenue and the PS #74 Hamlin Park Claude & Ouida Clapp Academy and Community School on Donaldson Road.
Some children throughout Western New York spent their Tuesday enjoying one last day of summer vacation before their districts open for the 2017-18 school year on Wednesday.