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Article Published April 18, 2018
North Branford Intermediate School Awarded CAS 'Positive Climate Status'
One of Just Six CT Middle Schools Currently Recognized
Pam Johnson, Senior Staff Writer

Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) has granted it's exemplary "Positive Climate Status" to North Branford Intermediate School (NBIS). The accolade was awarded following a rigorous application and review and makes NBIS one of only six middle schools in the state with the rating, according to NBIS interim principal Keith O'Rourke.  In Connecticut, a total of just 26 schools now carry CAS Positive Climate Status. NBIS, which serves the town's sixth, seventh and eighth graders, will now retain the CAS positive school designation for three years.

An NBIS administrative and faculty team applied earlier this year to be considered by the CAS Exemplary School Climate Practices Recognition Program, said O'Rourke. O'Rourke said the team's strong belief in NBIS's positive learning environment was confirmed and recognized following a CAS committee visit to the school on Tuesday, April 3.

To be considered for certification, NBIS administration and staff first "...completed a rigorous self-assessment examining areas of school practice such as a safe and healthy environment, a welcoming atmosphere for students and visitors, shared decision making, involvement of parents and the community in the life of the school," according to a press release from CAS (see related document).

By meeting with "stakeholder groups" (students, faculty, administration, parents) the CAS committee visit on April 3 determined NBIS is a "...safe and inviting school where the decision-making process promotes collaboration, academic and social expectations that are clear and consistent, and stakeholders [that] are involved in the school," wrote O'Rourke, in a letter to parents sharing news of the recognition.

"This wonderful recognition is a validation of our efforts as a staff as well as that of our students and parents in support of our PRIDE expectations, The Davis Way initiative, community-building efforts, and the safe and positive environment we have worked hard to nurture at NBIS," said O'Rourke.

NBIS implemented The Davis Way initiative as part of the 2017-18 school year, to honor former long-serving NBIS principal Alan Davis, who passed away on October 25, 2017. The district created "Davis Way" at NBIS with signs at two entrances and a bronzed plaque inside. The plaque pays tribute to Davis's career and describes The Davis Way initiative by noting his character, integrity and impact on the community. The plaque's tribute message became part of the district's NBIS school climate plan acronym, PRIDE; with the "D" in the acronym standing for the meaning of The Davis Way.

With the CAS honor, NBIS will receive a certificate together with a three-year Positive School Climate designation. As such, NBIS will be listed among schools carrying the award at the CAS website here  and will welcome inquiries and visits from schools and districts seeking to improving their school's climate.

While this is a new honor for NBIS, "...becoming a school considered to be an exemplar of positive climate does not happen overnight," noted O'Rourke. "The course we are on now was established years ago by many of our veteran staff members, former students and parents, and the leadership of Principal Alan Davis. This is truly a moment for everyone that is part of the NBIS community, past or present, to be extremely proud of, and one that we know Mr. Davis would have enjoyed thoroughly!"

For more information on CAS, visit http://cas.casciac.org/