LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — North Colonie Central School District is welcoming thousands of students on the first day of classes, including 40 students, in all grade levels, who are with their families seeking asylum in the Capital Region.

“We’ve gotten them their chrome books and we’ve gotten them up and ready and today they’ll be met, they’ll have buddies,” Kathleen Skeals, Superintendent, said. “We have language speakers in each of the schools so we can welcome them because, as you know, learning language is a social interaction.” 

The district worked to introduce those students to their new environment in the weeks leading up to the first day. Their reading, writing, and speaking skills were assessed during registration and the district worked to make sure all students met vaccine requirements. 

“We took them all throughout the school,” Skeals said. “We took them on the playground, we brought them through the lunch line because that’s something new to them, their families came with them so that was a really exciting time. We had a separate date for our secondary students so we brought them to the middle school and the high school.”

Marcus Puccioni, Principal of Shaker High School, said language support is a major part of their initiative to help asylum seeking students. 

“The district has done a lot to welcome the families,” Puccioni said. “We get new families all the time, from out of the country, out of state and all families that come to our district and to our school we want to make sure they feel welcomed.”

Both educators hope each student follows their passions and finds community this year.  

“Opportunity is everywhere here so whether it’s robotics or music or art or history,” Skeals said. “There’s something for everyone and our hope is that every child finds their passion at North Colonie.” 

“We also this year really want to focus on that feeling of connection,” Puccioni said. “Connection to the school, connection to one another.” 

The district is also monitoring conditions in the heat and working to keep students indoors and hydrated as much as possible. In a press release to families, the district said they will be monitoring the heat index and making changes to recess, gym and athletics as needed.