• Superintendent Mark Laurrie 

    Mark Laurrie

    It’s time to take note of Niagara Falls Schools’ successes for the start of the 2021 – 2022 school year

    The Niagara Falls City School District (NFCSD) has much to be proud of for the start of the 2021 – 2022 school year. We have had our challenges primarily due to remote learning and the loss of a large chunk of time in social/emotional development. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and schools was shut down, our Niagara Falls High School (NFHS) first-year students were in seventh grade, and our NFHS seniors were sophomores. Our students spent 18 – 20 months with almost no consistency. They are coming back to responsibility – behaving in class, arriving on time, doing more work than expected when engaging partially or entirely in remote learning. The transition was stressful for the students, and some were taking out their frustration in inappropriate ways. Unfortunately, some of these incidents were covered by the news media and cast our District in a bad light. 

    What you may not have heard is that the District’s triumphs have significantly outnumbered our challenges. While not always making headlines, the District has forged ahead with new programs and improvements that the pandemic has not been able to stop.  

    • Our Sisters Schools initiative is up and running and helping the NFCSD bridge the learning gap and address mental health concerns that exist due to the pandemic. Our Sister Schools are Kalfas and Niagara Street schools (grades PreK3 – grade 2) and Abate Elementary (grades 3 through 6). The transition has been smooth. The parents and staff are striving to ensure the best future success for the children. We thank them for trusting the Board and administration and helping us kick off these Sister Schools and for taking the risk to change in a time of such uncertainty  
    • Students in the District’s F-Bites program are gearing up to re-open the Starbucks inside NFHS. The F-Bites program also runs at the preparatory school level and re-enacts all aspects of running a restaurant from dishwasher to maître d’
    • Our LaSalle and Gaskill Prep Schools are continuing their highly successful robotics program, picking right up where last year’s teams left off. Last year’s brilliant crew ranked 7thin the world out of 12,800 teams
    • 370 NFHS students participated in one or more of our fall sports offerings: football, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, girls swimming, girls tennis, and volleyball
    • The school district rolled out a new career and financial management class to all ninth-graders. In the course, students are learning things like how to balance a  checkbook, how credit works, job interviewing skills, how to fill out job applications, and resume and cover letter writing
    • NFHS enjoyed Homecoming with a packed house for the football game and 800 students at the dance 
    • The community groups Men Standing Strong Together and the Peacemakers have been interacting with our high school students as mentors
    • The Early Head Start / Head Start program is transitioning to the Niagara Falls City School District
    • NFHS/LaSalle High School musical theatre alumni and District staff worked with current students on a November 2021 production of the musical EVITA

    We don’t want our students (and staff) to feel any additional stress. So, to shorten the time we must catch up and get back in the swing of things, we have to slow down. Paradoxically, slowing down will help us speed up. Becoming re-acquainted with full-time school and activities will take some time, and it is much more complicated than the pandemic. The District must find something every day to celebrate. We don’t have to look far.