BENNINGTON >> At an end-of-the-year assembly on Tuesday, Molly Stark Elementary School said farewell to its longtime administrator, welcomed a new principal, and thanked all the people who helped improve educational experiences at the school over the past year.
The students gathered in the school's gymnasium at 8:30 a.m. to celebrate the community members who had helped out over the school year. "It's wonderful, we have so much support at Molly Stark," said principal Donna Mackenzie-King, who will be retiring from the position at the end of the year, "It's an awesome celebration for our school, because we are an awesome school."
Among those honored were members of the Bennington School Board, members of the Seedlings program, members of the Parent-Teacher Organization, and more. Everyone received a plant, grown by fourth graders at the school. After all of the volunteers were called to the front of the room, the students sang them a song to say "Thank you."
At the end of the ceremony, the last assembly of the year, Mackenzie thanked the students and staff, and received a standing ovation from everyone in the room. "I'm going to miss all of you," she said, just before introducing the person who had been hired as her replacement, Dr. Michael Mugits.
Mugits said he looks forward to helping everyone get the most out of their education next year. "You are surrounded by people who care about you," he told the students, "Look around the room to see people who are here supporting you every day, in so many different ways. We expect you to come in every day with a smile. If you don't have one, one of the people here will help you find one... I look forward to working with you and supporting you."
Mugits received his bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Maine at Machias, his master's in school administration from Plymouth State College, in New Hampshire, and his doctorate in education from Sage Graduate Schools in New York. He worked as a teacher and principal at various schools from 1975 to 2010, then superintendent of the Green Island Union Free School District in New York. He left that position last summer.
The school also recognized the four students who had perfect attendance over the year. There was also a bike raffle for students who missed fewer than five school days over the course of the year. According to Mackenzie-King, 171 out of about 400 students met that goal. Two winners were chosen, one from grades K-2 and another from grades 3-5.
"That's hard for anyone," said assistant principal Gail Johnson of the students who didn't miss a single day, "They got up in the morning, every day, and said, 'I'm going to do it!' And they did."
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.