A parade is coming through Fairfield County this week that students and parents should not miss.
Instead of floats and marching bands, the big headliners are members of the Connecticut State Department of Education, Trumbull Public Schools, and senators and representatives from Hartford who want to talk about what’s on the horizon for future learners.
“The culture here is so driven that we want to put together a forum like this,” said Dan Neumann, executive director of the Trumbull Business-Education Initiative (BEI) and member of the ACE Foundation. “It’s a culture that says, ‘we want to have the opportunity to interact with the commissioner; interact with our legislators.’
“I joked last year that the only time you see them at the same place is at a parade,” he added.
It’ll be the second consecutive year that BEI will be able to host a legislative forum on education.
This year’s event is titled Preparing for Post-High School Success, which will feature a distinguished panel that includes Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Dianna Wentzell.
Also from the state’s education department will be lawyer and board member Stephen Wright, who will be joined by Trumbull’s four elected state representatives — Marilyn Moore (Senate District 22), Laura Devlin (House District 134), Ben McGorty (House District 122), and Dave Rutigliano (House District 123).
“We don’t want to call it an annual event because it’s hard work getting them all together on the same day — they all have very tight schedules,” said Neumann, who began making calls in October. “Once we got a yes from everybody, we started narrowing down the date.”
And that date happens to be Thursday, March 10. Trumbull High School’s senior lounge will host the legislators like it did last year; however, this time around the event will be held at 7 p.m. and not in the morning.
“They’re just as enthusiastic to participate this year as last year,” Neumann said.
He recalled watching Dr. Wentzell and Mr. Wright stay an hour later than scheduled last year, talking to Trumbull students who were part of extracurricular clubs such as Mock Trial and We the People.
“Dianna is a former teacher and we learned she used to be a mock trial advisor,” said Trumbull Superintendent Dr. Gary Cialfi will also serve on the panel.
“I think it brought her back to the classroom days,” he added. “I think she had a great time talking with everyone because she really cares about the kids and also really cares about the educators — the teachers who are with them every day.”
“We’re really grateful that she wants to put this on her schedule again,” Neumann added.
Senator Tony Hwang will be the moderator of the discussion Thursday.
Dr. Cialfi expects to see students of all ages from around the county in attendance with their parents.
He said local business people are welcome to attend as well.
“I’m sure the elected officials are going to hear questions about the number of credits needed for high school graduation — what’s on the table currently and why the legislation has been so delayed,” he explained. “I also think they’re going to talk about what types of courses are going to be needed for students who are getting more than the required 24 credits.
The superintendent said 82% of Trumbull students graduate with more than the required number of credits.
“What are those additional credits and how are they different than the state requirements?” That’s something they’ll be asked,” Dr. Cialfi said. “We want to look at required courses such as foreign language.”
“It’s a great opportunity for students to see what opportunities are out there outside of the classroom, too,” Neumann added. “In January, we laid out the possibilities of what’s here on the menu and the message was to get engaged; now, here we are in March, and the message is what’s the bigger picture surrounding those decisions — what’s the stage beyond here in Trumbull.”
Fairfield County students should RSVP by Tuesday, March 8 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.