For years, an office supplies store capitalized on the joyful holiday song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” as part of its back-to-school television commercials. The commercials focused on a couple of unhappy looking children searching for school supplies, while their exuberantly joyful parent skipped through the aisles behind them singing this song.

While the commercial always made me chuckle, I am guilty of counting down the hours to school, simply because this — in my humble opinion — really is the most wonderful time of the year!

On Sept. 6, Webster Central School District’s faculty and staff were thrilled to welcome nearly 8,400 students back to 11 Webster schools. I have always felt there are no more pleasing sounds than the laughter and chatter of our children filling the hallways and classrooms. I am so excited to have them back with us for the beginning of another year together!

I also welcomed back our faculty and staff last week by talking about our districtwide theme for the year, "Joy & Optimism." I challenged all of them to be mindful of their time together with their students and with their families. Leading a joy-filled and optimistic life is all about being mindful of balance in our daily activities, a message we will continue sharing with our students all year long.

This year, as a district, we have so many reasons to be joyful and optimistic. We are welcoming a special group of 17 new students in grades second through fourth to all seven of our elementary schools. These students are participating in the Urban-Suburban Interdistrict Transfer program and now call Webster CSD their home district.

Throughout the month of August, the district has also put about 4,900 Chromebooks into the hands of our students entering grades sixth through 12th, part of the district’s new Transforming Learning Through Technology student device initiative. Not only do students in sixth through 12th grade get to take their own Chromebooks back and forth to school with them, all students in Webster, kindergarten through 12th grade, will have access to their own iPad — kindergarten through second grade — and Chromebook — third through fifth grade — while in the classroom. These are exciting times as our teachers use these powerful educational devices to go even deeper with our curriculum. You can find out more by visiting websterschools.org/explore.

And Webster’s Board of Education is currently considering a capital project to update many of our district’s facilities. The project includes everything from replacing boilers that are original to 10 of our 11 buildings to building a new cafetorium at Spry Middle School that will replace the current auditorium that is original to the building. There is much to share about the project, so please be sure to watch this space for updates and also visit the district’s website, websterschools.org/capitalproject, for more information.

Truly, this is the most wonderful time of the year for the above reasons and so many more that couldn’t possibly fit in one column! I offer all Webster CSD students and families a heartfelt “welcome back!”