By Nancy Rineman
Hampton Union, Friday, August 31, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Nancy Rineman photo]
HAMPTON -- As the new principal at Hampton Academy, Christopher Sousa was able to take part in an old tradition with the entire student body on the first day of school Tuesday.
The informal ceremony held at the beginning of the day was the ringing of the bell on the school grounds on Academy Avenue.
"This was the bell that rang to call students to school from 1859 to 1940," Sousa said.
As tradition dictates, the two youngest students in the school, one boy and one girl, had the honor of ringing the bell. The two brand new sixth-graders assuming the role this year were Ariana Fiacco and Joseph Sousa (no relation).
Principal Sousa said while the ceremony was a light-hearted affair, he took the opportunity to talk about the thousands of students who have walked through the halls of the school and the history that was being experienced at this time.
Sousa was principal of Proctor Junior/Senior. High School in Proctor, Vt., before he and his family made the move to Hampton. He said he was attracted to Hampton for many of the same reasons he was attracted to Proctor.
"What attracted me to Proctor was a great sense of community, and sense of small town," Sousa said, adding that he has experienced that same feeling in Hampton.
Sousa grew up in Providence, R.I., and spent many summer vacations right here on the Seacoast. His wife, Colleen, has family north of Boston, making the move here an opportunity to get closer to family and friends, Sousa said.
The principal spoke about the experience of his first day on the job July 1.
"The nice thing about the transition was that Fred (Muscara) was around," Sousa said, recalling that Muscara, who retired in June, was always ready to help through e-mails and phone calls, during his last months as principal. He said he also received a lot of help from Nancy Andrews, Centre School principal, and Marston School principal David O'Connor.
"My Number One support is Nancy York (his secretary)," Sousa said.
Sousa said while he and York and the custodial staff were at the school every day during the summer, the teachers were in and out all summer long as well.
"It's exciting," Sousa said. "I love the first day. Today, the kids being here, they're the life and blood of the school."
Sousa said he will be busy settling in and getting to know people, and the student body. He said he will also be working toward finding out what the community wants for the school.
"I plan to use my experience and expertise in helping to continue to build that sense of community at the academy I feel Fred Muscara started," Sousa said.
Sousa and his wife, who is teaching fifth-grade in Seabrook, have two children, a 2-year-old daughter, Olivia, and a son, Tirnan, who is just 5 months old.