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Cumberland looks to restore clipper sign

January 24, 2012

CUMBERLAND — Rusted and battered by years of exposure to the elements, the Cumberland High School clipper ship, the official high school mascot that has hung for years on the brick exterior of the school building, may be in line for a long overdue makeover.
At its meeting tomorrow, the School Committee will be asked to consider resolutions calling for the restoration and re-painting of the metal clipper ship.
The committee meets at 7 p.m. in the Cumberland High School Cafetorium, 2602 Mendon Road.
Restoring the rusted and worn out clipper ship is among the projects in newly-hired School Superintendent Philip D. Thornton’s so-called “curb appeal” effort to improve the look of school buildings and grounds.
The curb appeal project is among the many goals and objectives announced by Thornton shortly after he arrived in the district late last year.
At a meeting with the Town Council a few months ago, Thornton discussed his curb appeal project to improve and upgrade the look of school buildings and grounds and outlined a list that includes everything from new lockers to newly painted flag poles. The repairs and restorative projects began this winter.
“My goal, truly, is to make Cumberland the schools of choice,” Thornton told the council at that meeting. “I want folks to look for a house and ask, ‘How are the schools?’ And the answer’s going to be ‘fantastic.’ So, that’s where we’re going.”
Other Thornton initiatives that have taken place so far during his short time with the district include the launching recently of the school district’s new website; creation of a new achievement subcommittee; and modeling for full-day kindergarten.
A study group assembled to perform an in-depth review of the feasibility of all-day kindergarten in Cumberland public schools is expected to report its findings by the end of the month.
The district has been talking about instituting full-day kindergarten since the fall and the arrival of Thornton, a supporter of full-day kindergarten.
Thornton made a formal public presentation on the merits of an all-day program at the School Committee's meeting Dec. 8.
Full-day kindergarten is defined as a kindergarten program that operates for at least six hours per day.
The study group is investigating a plan that would have kindergartners attend a full day at each of the district's five neighborhood schools while at the same time adjusting some district lines, particularly in Cumberland Hill where kindergartners are currently bused to the Community School.
Currently, there are 60 half-day kindergarten students at the Ashton School; 36 at the B.F.Norton School; 115 at the Community School; and 42 at the Garvin Memorial School.
The School Committee will have the final say on whether or not an all-day program is instituted based on a recommendation by Thornton.
Thornton replaces former Cumberland superintendent Donna A. Morelle, who left the district last July 1. Thornton came to Cumberland from North Kigstown, where he held the position of assistant superintendent.
Born in Woonsocket, Thornton entered the teaching profession in 1988, initially as a long term substitute teacher in four area school districts.
Thornton spent several years in the classroom as a high school history teacher.
Thornton’s educational administration experience also includes the assistant principal position at Exeter-West Greenwich High School, the director of curriculum and instruction at the Exeter/West Greenwich School District, and the assistant superintendent position at the Chariho Regional School District.

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