NEWTOWN — The Board of Education, meeting Tuesday, June 4, recognized the top five percent of the 2019 graduating class, which includes Michael Arena, Audrey Benson, Ryan Brown, Gabrielle Calbro, Stephanie Cobb, Francesca D’Aprile, Claire Dubois, Matthew Dubois, Sarah Grant, Justin Kahn, Allyson Kenny, Fallyn Kirlin, Jake Kneski, Brianna Linden, Ben Nowacki, Caroline Reichmann, Nina Francesca Soriano and Kiera Sughrue.

Hailey Pankow is the salutatorian and Bryan Ingwersen is the valedictorian.

The CABE Student Leadership award winners are Kirtana Kunzweiler and Joseph Crosby from Newtown Middle School and Simone Paradis and Matthew Dubois from Newtown High School.

The board unanimously approved a student field trip to Panama that will take place from February 15 to 22, 2020.

There was a scouting trip in January to review the reserve where students will be staying and learning about attempts being made to restore the rain forest.

Features of the trip include safety on the protected reserve; there will be WiFi, security cameras and solar powered facilities to keep children in contact with the school and families.

The trip will provide broad learning opportunities such as cultural connections and scientific approaches to conservation, biology, botany, entomology, soil and water chemistry, evolution, herpetology and ornithology.

Students will be able to spend time with the Embera Tribe.

Sleeping quarters are tents with air mattresses on elevated platforms with running water.

Students will prepare with travel clinics, and prep academically and culturally as they take care of details such as packing and obtaining passports.

The trip will set students to follow through in several ways and testimonials from students who have travelled to Panama emphasize the impact of the experience.

Board member Dan R. Delia confirmed that the nearest hospital is only 15 kilometers away, noting rough terrain means that it would take an hour to access that level of medical attention.

The cost would be $3,000 per student with two chaperones.

For students who would like to go but cannot afford the trip, the school is working on financial aid with Newtown Savings Bank to help fund this and future trips.

In other business, the board considered a first read of the Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry curricula.

Algebra I will provide students with a foundation on which they will build their learning in future topics.

Algebra II includes information on statistics to introduce students to what they might learn later should they be interested in following that course of study.

Geometry provides a path forward and bridges to other courses.

The framework will be used across all levels of student abilities.

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