Barrington schools top headlines in 2012


2012 was a memorable year for Barrington Public Schools.

Whether it was saying good-bye to respected educators, debating a proposal or celebrating the accomplishments of students, last year featured plenty of school-related news.

Not every school story from the last 12 months made this round-up but following are some of the more memorable issues and topics that will likely be recalled for years to come:

Whooping cough — The year began with a whooping cough outbreak that included cases at the middle and high schools and Hampden Meadows, and eventually reached a total of 21 people — 18 students — diagnosed. Hundreds and hundreds of people turned out for a vaccination clinic at the high school in January. The 42-day outbreak was considered over on Feb. 27.

School start times — As it had been for more than one year prior, the issue of school start times remained a topic of debate in 2012. A survey, a district-sponsored forum, and a workshop did nothing to resolve the debate. The year ended without any final decision.

Girls’ hockey wins state title — Barrington High School started March with a celebration after the Barrington-Mt. Hope-Portsmouth girls’ hockey co-op won the state Division I title. The team defeated  Ponagansett-Burrillville in back-to-back games to win the championship. It was Barrington’s first girls’ hockey title since 2007. Senior Emily Carlson was named the series MVP.

Vice-principal resigns — Retired English teacher Ralph Caruso returned to the high school in March to serve as director of discipline following the resignation of assistant principal Lonnie Morris. Mr. Morris was reportedly placed on administrative leave prior to his resignation. In a letter to former Superintendent Robert McIntyre, Mr. Morris said he was resigning to take care of obligations as head coach of the Johnson and Wales University wrestling team. According to Pawtucket School Committee meeting minutes, Mr. Morris now serves as assistant principal at Tolman High School.

Good-bye, Mr. Wheeler — Longtime Barrington Middle School Principal Richard Wheeler, who had reached his maximum credit under the state pension system, announced his retirement. He later accepted a position as principal of Dighton-Rehoboth Middle School.

New superintendent — Months after Superintendent Robert McIntyre announced he would retire at the end of June, the Barrington School Committee unanimously named Michael Messore as his successor. Mr. Messore, who previously served as the district’s assistant superintendent, was selected from among four finalists.

Dollars, cents and the middle school woodshop — The Barrington School Committee voted to eliminate a full-time industrial arts position at the middle school, but voters at the financial town meeting supported re-instituting $144,000 to the school budget to fund the industrial arts position and some improvements to the woodshop. The bump was enough to trigger a small tax increase.

Tuition-in program shelved — A tuition-in program that would have offered 10 seats to students outside Barrington with families  willing to pay a $12,700 tuition was shelved after the RI American Civil Liberties Union questioned if it would be discriminatory against students with disabilities.

The Class of 2012 — Barrington High School Principal Joe Hurley watched the first outdoor graduation ceremony of his tenure in June. The 287 Barrington High School Class of 2012 graduates were greeted with a beautiful June day to say good-bye to familiar halls and familiar faces.

Arlene Miguel retires — Arlene Miguel joined the list of local educators who departed Barrington in June. The former Hampden Meadows School Principal sent an e-mail to parents announcing her retirement 13 years after coming over from Bristol-Warren. Like Mr. Wheeler, Ms. Miguel had topped out her credits with the state pension system and like Mr. Wheeler, she moved on to Dighton-Rehoboth where she now serves as principal of Palmer River Elementary School.

New leaders — The summer was a busy time for Barrington school officials, who faced a handful of administrative vacancies at the end of the school year. Tracey Whitehead was named new Nayatt School principal in July, the same night Ed Daft was named a new assistant principal at Barrington High School. The school committee next appointed Tracey McGee as principal at Hampden Meadows School before naming Andrew Anderson to the top post at Barrington Middle School and Paula Dillon as director of curriculum and assessment.

John Gray passes away — The summer break was met with sadness in August when former long-time high school principal John Gray passed away. Mr. Gray served as high school principal for nearly 30 years before retiring in 2009. His passing was met with an outpouring of community support and later, the school committee unanimously approved naming the high school auditorium in his honor.

Health, safety and the middle school — The future of Barrington Middle School wasn’t finalized in 2012 but the options were narrowed down to either a completely new facility or a significant renovation of the existing facility with an addition. The school committee endorsed further study of both proposals in preparation for 2014 when a state moratorium on school housing reimbursement is lifted. Meanwhile, the district put together a list of more immediate work that addresses health and safety concerns to be performed at every local school in the coming year.

Back-to-back — The BHS girls’ cross country team won its second consecutive state title in November. Six of the team’s seven runners finished in the top 20, including freshman Emma McMillan, who won the individual title. The team also won the New Englands a New England-wide race about a week later before finishing third at Regionals, one spot shy of a nationals bid.

Soccer champs — The high school boys’ soccer team took home its third state title in five years in November. The Eagles defeated LaSalle 3-2 in the finals. Matthew Roberts, whose mohawk inspired a similar style statement among teammates, was named MVP.

New name, new chairman — Barrington voters put a new face on the Barrington School Committee in November. Paula Dominguez won her first term on the board while Bob Shea and Patrick Guida were both re-elected. Husband and wife Chris and Meg Ramsden finished fourth and fifth in the race for three seats. The election also swung the school committee from a majority of Republicans to a majority of Democrats. Last month, Mr. Shea was named the board’s new chairman.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.