BETHEL — A new school year means a new beginning for many students, and for Telstar Regional High School it brings new policies and opportunities.

In their annual “welcome back” assembly, Principal Cheryl Lang and Dean of Students Kristin Dacko explained the new policies, which included cellphone rules and a new grading system.

Students will no longer see letters on their report cards, but numbers. Students’ proficiency will be measured using 1-4.

“We’re going to see a lot of changes for what it means to gain credits,” Lang said.

While Telstar decided not to ban cellphones, officials expect phones to be put away during classes, which is nothing new. What is new: the warnings students will receive.

A first offense will earn a teacher’s warning. A second offense earns a detention, and the student’s parents will be called to come pick up the cellphone. The third offense earns a Saturday detention and a phone call to parents.

Dacko said that if parents are not able to come to pick up the cellphone, other arrangements will be made on a case-by-case basis.

New opportunities are available for the students as well. Edmentum, an online program, offers a variety of online classes, such as languages, history and math.  

Students need principal approval to take the classes and receive credit toward their diplomas.

Attendance was a hot topic at the assembly, and Lang explained the steps staff have taken to try to decrease truancy and make the school a place the students want to be.

“We’re coming up with strategies to help those who find it hard to come every day,” said special education teacher Robin Fraser, who cited peer issues as one of the several reasons given for missing classes.

The assembly ended with a video to the students from the staff. They issued challenges to students and themselves, from learning new things to making mistakes, “because that’s how we improve.”

The general message: Students are wanted at school.

“It’s really boring when you’re not here,” guidance counselor Lori Lindsey said. “We miss you.”

Junior Emily Hanscom said the climate of Telstar is very community-oriented.

“It feels like your family is here,” Hanscom said.

[email protected]

Students and staff gather in the auditorium at Telstar Regional High School in Bethel on Wednesday for the “back to school” assembly, presented by Principal Cheryl Lang and Dean of Students Kristin Dacko.

English teacher Douglas Bennett leads his homeroom class from the assembly to his classroom on the first day of school at Telstar Regional High School in Bethel on Wednesday.

Music teacher Jennifer Bennett writes the schedule on the board while Georgia Piawlock talks to her friends on the first day of classes Wednesday at Telstar Regional High School in Bethel.

Comments are not available on this story.