Hartford launches free meals, plans for students' futures - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hartford launches free meals, plans for students' futures

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

The first day of school arrived for Hartford students on Tuesday with free meals and some ambitious goals.

The 22,000 students in the school system headed back into the classrooms across the city.

“It’s always exciting to welcome our students back,” said Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, who is in her second year as superintendent. "We want to make sure that no matter where you go to school, it's a high-performing school, and we made that commitment to every child."

Even a seasoned teacher like Ms. Jacqueline Springer, who has 23 years under her belt, said she gets butterflies.

"I get a little nervous [and] excited, so I can't sleep the night before," she said. 

This year, the district announced that all students will be offered free breakfast and lunch, regardless of where they live or their family income.

School officials said Hartford is taking advantage of a federal program that aims to boost the number of students in the national breakfast and lunch programs.

Thirteen magnet schools will join the 35 schools already enrolled.

According to the district, just over half of its students meet the poverty threshold.

One of the other projects the school system is undertaking includes a goal of 100 percent college acceptance.

“In the summer we unveiled a five year strategic plan that gives us a blueprint for the next five years so that every student thrives and every school is performing,” Schiavino-Narvaez said. 

Many students told Eyewitness News that they were ready to hit the books.

"Last year was really hard," said Jhni Heron, an eighth grader at MLK. "Now, that I know what's expected, I want to work at my fullest abilities."

For some students, their first day back was not at their assigned school. Students who attend the Clark Elementary School headed to the Journalism and Media Academy and WISH schools.

PCBs were discovered in the Clark school last December, leaving the building off-limits until sufficient repairs can be made.

Officials called it a complicated project since the work has to be done with the federal Environmental Protection Agency along with state agencies.

"We want to do it right," Schiavino-Narvaez said. "We want to make sure that kids go back to a healthy and environmentally safe learning environment."

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