The Buzz
School Community Newsletter
Issue #49
Monday, June 14, 2021
On Friday, June 11, the accomplishments of 75 Gilbert School graduates were celebrated at East End Park in front of family and friends who all gathered at the school’s 126th commencement. Sixty-eight graduates participated in the ceremony. Several seniors in China meeting TGS credits to earn their diplomas were unable to participate due to travel restrictions.

The commencement was held not too far away from the Park Place building that was the original location of The Gilbert School from 1895 to 1959, and is now a building used by Northwestern Connecticut Community College.
The common theme in the speeches at the ceremony was perseverance, because students, faculty, and staff went through very uncommon times during the Covid-19 pandemic; learning remotely, losing out on activities including sports and traditional events. Yet, despite the challenges and stressors of the pandemic, students, teachers, and staff members all completed a successful year at Gilbert.
"I want to thank our students, our future, who sit in front of you today for their patience, persistence, and perseverance, for what has been the most historic year-and-a-half of their young lives: the Covid-19 pandemic. These students have been nothing but patient during the last year and-a-half.

They have accepted virtual learning, hybrid learning, no sports, sports without spectators, masks, social distancing, and conversing with teachers and classmates behind plexiglass barriers. They persevered and continued to learn and grow. Whether from the classroom, or from home. They are persistent. Although there were restrictions, they took advantage of every opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments, and future endeavors. All while being respectful, responsible, and kind.

Graduates, as you enter the workforce, college, or military, I challenge you to go outside your comfort zone and meet new people. Take the opportunity to find out what you have in common with those around you, rather than focusing on what separates you. Find your voice and learn to use it. Speak and let yourself be heard. But also listen and hear what other people are saying. I hope you, like me, will take the lessons that you have learned during your time at Gilbert and let them guide you, inspire you, and remind you that you are Gilbert strong." - Gilbert School Principal Susan Sojka
"I think the saying ‘work hard, play hard’ really does apply to the class of 2021. Although sometimes we focused on the ‘play’ part of that saying just a little too much, we still managed to put in the hard work to get to our high school graduation.

Our class has had a fair share of fun during our time at Gilbert. Whether it would be roller skating in chicken suits, hanging off of the basketball hoops in order to hang a few kind of sad looking balloons, getting a little too caught up in winning tug-of-war, breaking a few too many stands during basketball games, playing Pop Smoke tribute songs in class, bringing toboggans up to Gilbert during the first snow storm, and buying our first cars, second cars, and for some of us our third cars. And some of us may be on our fourth cars soon enough.

As I will be continuing my academics at the University of Miami, I know you all have incredible futures to look forward to. Somewhere in the back of our minds we will always be small town kids who went to Gilbert. We will remember our first school dance, our life long friends we first met in class, building walls together for spirit week, and meeting teachers who have helped us transform into the people that we are today. Some of the memories that we made within the TGS brick walls will stick with us for life. But it doesn’t end here. We will continue to make memories, meet new people, and create our stories day by day. If there is anything I want my classmates to remember while pursuing their journeys beyond high school is to work to the best of your ability and don’t let any moments or opportunities pass you by in the process." - Salutatorian Miranda Brennan
"It is hard to believe that just six short years ago, many of us sat in our seventh grade English class looking at a question written in bold black ink on a whiteboard: 'Who are you?' It was the framework of our entrance into the big world of middle school, and the basis of nearly every part of our curriculum. While it appeared to be a seemingly easy task, we were all under the impression, whether it be promised or not, that by the end of the year we would know exactly what we were made of, and exactly who we were.

We were expected to conform to society’s needs and wants. We were expected to find solutions to problems we had not even begun to understand ourselves. We were expected to carry the burden of responsibility while maintaining our child-like innocence. In a sense, it quickly vanished under the scrutinizing eye of social media and society. We grew up in an age of inescapable and unimaginable technology, with a constant flow of information and society’s standards of perfection bombarding us with every Instagram scroll and like. We became a generation surrounded by unthinkable and needless violence.

Still, despite all that we have seen in our short lifetime, no one could have known on March 13, 2020, the life that we knew would come to a standstill. Unprepared and looking out at an even more unknown future, we all froze. We quarantined, and we escaped into ourselves and did what we could, hoping that in a few short months it would all be over. Instead, it wasn’t. 2020 became a year that would spark outrage and bring attention to the wronged and oppressed of our world.

It would bring to light the need for progressive changes to secure a fair, and more equitable future. 2020 was our call to action. When the stars finally aligned, and our destiny began to run parallel to the expectations and responsibilities that had been set for us. We are the generation raised by the what if events of our time, allowing us to change the future from what it can be, to what it will be.

While the pandemic has cost us irreplaceable memories, and in some moments it felt like we even lost ourselves, it has shown me everything our generation is capable of. And what all of you are capable of." - Valedictorian Rebecca Dowling
"...when there are moments of doubt and troubled times you will get through it all if you trust and believe, you will survive, you will blossom when the time is revealed and you will thrive in due course.
I leave you with this last thought, “Protect This House!” In this case, the house I speak of is The Gilbert School. Get involved with politics that govern our existence for if you truly love this school, it will need your desire and passion for the Blue and Gold for generations to come. There are those who will speak against it and might try to dismantle it but stand in the gap and protect TGS now and forever." - Superintendent Anthony Serio
Eighth Grade Promotion ceremony
The Gilbert School held its eighth grade promotion ceremony on Wednesday, June 9. The event was a celebration of the accomplishments of students who will be entering into Gilbert's high school program next year.
"I am grateful for the time I spent focusing on helping our middle school students maneuver through an exciting, challenging, and often confusing times in their lives, while preparing them for graduation and beyond," Principal Susan Sojka said at the ceremony. "I have been honored to work beside an amazing group of educators. To our seventh and eighth grade teachers, thank you for guiding these students for the last two years, and for always believing in them. I could not have asked for a better middle school team. While this may be my last year at The Gilbert School, I will forever hold in my heart the moments I shared with so many students, families, and friends during my tenure."

"The teachers and staff that we have here have worked tirelessly with our students every day," Associate Principal Maura Hurley said. "They are some of the most dedicated faculty and staff I have ever worked with. This year has been unusual, to say the least. The class surely have had their share of trials and tribulations. But I truly believe that nothing will stop them now."
Teacher of the Year
Patrick Cooke
At a ceremony on June 9 at the school’s cafeteria, Science teacher Patrick Cooke was named Gilbert School’s Teacher of the Year. Cooke graduated from Gilbert in 1989, and has been a teacher at Gilbert since 2003. He was introduced by Middle School Social Studies teacher and Assistant Athletic Director Charles Harbach.

“Patrick inspires the students and faculty and colleagues constantly,” Harbach said. “Patrick always has creative classroom lessons and constantly communicates with students and parents. He also holds his students and himself to high standards and encourages the students to be their best selves both in and outside of the classroom.”
Cooke along with his children Brady and Rileigh, and his wife Meghan.
"Being a Gilbert graduate and having grown up in this community, to be recognized as the Teacher of the Year award, I’m speechless," Cooke said. "I do want to say that I look at myself as a representative of the teacher of the year award. Because in a year like this, there’s no way, and it is completely not fair, that any single teacher be singled out for their efforts that were required of them throughout the course of this year. Instead of a recipient, I would really like to be referred to as an honored representative of the Gilbert staff. From the teachers, to the paraprofessionals, to everyone in-between, what we were asked to do needs to be honored."
Yearbook dedication
Jessica Nardine
This year's Gilbert Yearbook was dedicated to Social Studies Teacher Jessica Nardine. She is a Gilbert School graduate, class of 1993. Jessica did not make a speech at the June 9 dedication event. However, in a past interview with The Buzz, she said that "I feel very happy being able to give back to my town and my community. I am hopeful that I can help move the school forward and make it a high school people want to send their kids to.” She also added "I am looking forward to education getting back to normal after this crazy pandemic. Including having students back in the classrooms full time."
Senior Night
The Gilbert School honored its graduating seniors with Senior Night on Thursday, Jun. 10. Seniors received awards for their work during the past year. They also got to enjoy pizza and outdoor games during the event, along with one more chance to hang out with each other before graduation on June 11.
Coach's Corner
By Buckley Morgan, Athletic Director
Summer Break Has Arrived!!

As I sit here drinking my coffee this morning and enjoying the air conditioning, I am reflecting on this past year and looking forward to next fall. The Gilbert students have attended graduation and promotion events this week. While it has been a busy week, we all have been able to take a breath and reflect on the past year and begin thinking about goals and plans for the upcoming school year. This year has been so busy that it has been a real challenge to seriously look toward our 2021-2022 school year.
In looking at our 2021 Fall Athletics season, I have opened up Family ID for fall sports registration effective immediately. All those interested should go on line as soon as possible to get your registration completed. Make sure you have a valid physical on file. If you are involved in any Gilbert sports summer conditioning activities like Football or soccer you must have a valid physical on file and you must be registered on family ID. You can register by scanning this QR code or by navigating to
Gilbert high school fall sports include: Football, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, golf and cheer. 
Gilbert Middle School fall sports includes: boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls cross country
Beginning with the 2021/22 athletics season, all of our home football, basketball, Volleyball and wrestling competitions will be live streamed through the NFHS Network. This is a subscription service that offers the opportunity for our parents, relatives and friends to see the games live or on demand in the event that they may not be able to come to the game in person. The NFHS Network is a nation wide livecaster of highschool sports. With a subscription you will be able to watch any games on their network, from anywhere in the country live or on demand. For more info or to subscribe, scan this QR code or navigate to:
I will close this last update of the 20-21 school year wishing all our graduated seniors the best in their future and a very fun and active summer to all the rest of our students. I look forward to your return for the 21-22 school year.
Attention Parents
The American Recovery Plan is providing funds to the State of Connecticut for education that is passed on to the school districts. There are several components to the plan including recover of students skills through academic intervention, acceleration and renewal, social and emotional health for staff and students, technology training, community engagement and building infrastructure for health and safety, We must begin by gaining feedback on reopening plans for next school year. At this time we are unsure about social distancing or mask wearing requirements. It is our anticipation to have all students back in person at The Gilbert School with no hybrid or remote learning option except on snow days. We will be back to five days a week and will continue a block schedule. The plan from this year is on our website. The plan once written will lead to the application to fund our educational programs for the aforementioned areas. We will be sending out a survey to get community input on our plan. We will be discussing our plan at this week's School Corporation meeting in the school library on Wednesday, June 16 at 7 p.m. The community is invited to attend this meeting.

Health Office: Important Information for Parents
6th Grade and 9th Grade Physicals

Students entering 7th and 10th grade MUST have completed a state mandated physical with their primary care physician and have filed a blue State of CT physical form with the nurse’s office. Students may be excluded from school from the start of the 2021 school year until this requirement is met. Please contact physician’s offices early to get an appointment if you have not completed this requirement.

Sports Physicals for Fall Sports

The safety and well being of all of our athletes is a top priority to The Gilbert School. Prior to trying out for any sport, a current physical must be on file in the nurse’s office. Unfortunately, we do not accept notes from physicians instead of the completed physical form, so please ask your physician to complete the entire form. Parents must complete the first page. Athletic physicals are considered current for one year. To prevent the need to stop an athlete from participating once he/she is on a team due to a lapse in their athletic physical, we strongly encourage parents to arrange for physicals to be performed during the summer months. Physical forms can be mailed into the school at any time during the summer or dropped off in the main office.


If you anticipate your child may need medication in the fall of 2021, please have your physician complete the authorization for administration of medication form and return it to the nurse’s office at the beginning of the school year.  

Should you have any issues over the summer that you would like the nurse to be aware of, please email at [email protected]. Wishing you a happy and healthy summer!!
Attention Gilbert Alumni
We Want to Stay in Contact With You!

The Gilbert School
200 WIlliams Avenue
Winsted, CT 06098