Covering 58 square miles and having approximately 12,000 residents, Stafford boasts a unique balance between open space and modern convenience. It is the fourth most spacious town in Connecticut, yet ranks in the bottom third for population density.
The vast landscape includes multiple lakes with private and public beaches, two Connecticut State Forests (the Shenipsit State Forest and the Nipmuck State Forest) and ample farmland, all crisscrossed by traditional New England stone walls. There is also a developed downtown business district and several industrial and commercial districts.
Like all New England towns - residents of Stafford enjoy the joy of the change of seasons. Snowy winters, beautiful springs, mild summers, and scenic autumns provide a diverse experience for residents.
Stafford is a safe place when compared to similar size communities throughout the United States and Connecticut. It boasts crime rates below both the national and Connecticut state averages.
Stafford has a rich historical heritage. Long before its incorporation as a town in 1719, the famous mineral springs drew Native Americans and settlers to the Stafford area for the curative properties of the water.
When initially incorporated, most of the population of Stafford was concentrated in 6-7 agricultural villages. In the early 1800s, the availability of water power from the tributaries of the Willimantic River led to Stafford's industrialization and caused population shifts. By the mid-1800's, the Railroad connected Stafford to markets all across New England. Before the State Highway projects of the 1920's & 1930, there was even a Trolley connection to Rockville.
The Town of Stafford presents an ideal location for families and companies looking for a destination. Stafford is a rural/suburban mixed community with direct and rapid access to all major Northeast cities, especially New York and Boston. Our highly trained workforce, ample clean water supply and cooperative financial institutions all contribute to a positive business climate.
PARKS & RECREATION
For the outdoor enthusiast, Stafford and North Central Connecticut offer many activities. The Middle River and Willimantic River have good water for canoes and kayaks throughout the spring, summer and fall. Upland game hunting, fishing, swimming as well as cross country skiing, can be found. The Town has several tennis courts, ball fields, soccer fields, and several quiet, relaxing parks.
During the spring and summer, there is an active Little League program, youth softball, adult softball for men and women, and a summer recreational program offering swimming lessons and martial arts instruction for children. There are also programs for youth football, basketball, soccer and hockey. The nationally famous Stafford Motor Speedway attracts tens of thousands of spectators every year and is a fixture on spring and summer evenings. Stafford also has limited access to Sandy Beach on Crystal Lake in Ellington. Plans are being developed to provide hiking and multi-use trails within Stafford and connecting to other towns. Two B&B's and nearby campgrounds provide overnight accommodation for visitors.
Stafford enrolls approximately 1,545 students, pre-kindergarten through grade 12, in five schools: three elementary, one middle and one high school. The mission of the school district is to enable all students to realize their full potential as lifelong learners and responsible citizens. This disposition is based upon the conviction that the dignity and worth of each child is of primary concern and that the aim of education is to prepare and inspire our youth to assume meaningful roles in a culturally diverse, ever-changing world.
In an effort to prepare all students for success in school and life, the school district purposefully utilizes early intervention programs and focused staff development activities to develop essential skills and content knowledge as specified in Connecticut Core Standards. With early literacy a priority, strong pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten programs focus on academics, routines, and social skills to ensure a solid foundation. The use of the Responsive Classroom and Second Step models promote the development of positive character traits in our youngest students.
Curriculum is designed to provide challenging, motivating and thought provoking educational experiences, which address the individual and diverse academic, social and emotional needs of all students. Stafford outperforms students on regional, State, and national averages on assessments. In addition to Algebra I and World Language credit options at the middle school, we offer Early College Experience (ECE), Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors courses at the high school. Students also enroll in courses such as Research & Development, in which students built a hovercraft with donations through community partnerships, and Video Game Development. Recent enrichment activities also include international trips to Italy and Quebec City. With a projected four-year graduation rate greater than 95%, we offer programs such as Unified Sports, Unified Art and Unified Physical Education, which promote a positive school culture. The recipient of numerous sportsmanship, all-conference, all-state, and scholar athlete awards, we offer football, basketball, baseball, softball, golf, soccer, wrestling, indoor & outdoor track, cross country, cheerleading, and field hockey. The district benefits from the services of a full-time athletic trainer to monitor and ensure the safety of our athletes.
In addition to Programs After School in Stafford (P.A.S.S.) for our elementary students, and enrichment activities for middle school students such as Geocaching and 3-D Printing, students at the secondary levels also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of clubs such as Service Corps, Bowling, Yearbook, and Adventure Club, through which students enjoy ski and snowboarding trips to a local ski area, to name a few. We also provide transition services to eligible students, working with the community to provide valuable work experiences at local grocery stores and businesses.
Our public schools also offer strong performing arts programs beginning with band and chorus in the elementary school. As early as kindergarten and first grade, children enjoy performing in productions such as Lemonade and Big, Beautiful Planet, collaborative efforts between our Art and Music departments. Ninety-three 4th and 5th grade students participate in band and over 200 in chorus at the elementary school. Our middle school Stage & Select choirs have won awards at national competitions and consistently have sell-out performances of productions such as Seussical and Aladdin. Likewise, offering preview performances for our senior citizens, the community experiences enjoyment during high school productions of Singing in the Rain, Alice in Wonderland, and Mary Poppins, to name a few. The Madrigal Feaste, a dinner theater production, is an annual event you don't want to miss! Students also perform at West Point, Gillette's Castle, Sturbridge Village, Enfield Hospice, the Big E, nursing homes, carole sings and parades, to name a few.
In the area of visual arts, more than 350 students participated in our annual Art Show at the public library as well as at the Stafford Fall Arts Festival, in partnership with local artists. Families have the opportunity to purchase student artwork (e.g. aprons, ornaments, mugs, shirts, etc.) through Artsonia and Square One, memorializing their accomplishments with gifts that last a lifetime! Artwork produced by our students in Unified Art class was featured on Special Olympics "Penguin Plunge" note cards, which proved to be an appreciated gift as presented to our Board of Education.
Stafford continues to participate in inter-district programs, such as Legacy Exploration and The 4th R- Robotics. Access to Internet-based activities promotes our students' understanding of other cultures. Our students, as young as at the primary level, participate in distance learning projects with schools in other regions. For example, kindergartners Skyped with a classmate in Bangalor, India, and went on a virtual tour that included houses, schools, McDonald's and a shopping mall. Concurrently, our elementary students engaged in a "Guess the States" project with students in Maine and Michigan, and middle school students continue their partnership with the scientists of the Long Island Sound project.
Our students recognize the importance of giving back to the community. We take pride in the success of our Field Hockey team's annual "Play for the Cure" event, which raised nearly $3,000 this year. Our district also makes sizable monetary donations to Safe Net Ministries, which meets the needs of Stafford and Union residents, who are "caught in difficult, transitional times in their lives," by providing temporary assistance with food, clothing, utilities and shelter.
Stafford recognizes the importance of home-school collaboration in the success of each child. Therefore, we use a variety of communication methods including, but not limited to, a web-based portal for parents to access their child's grades and assignments, web pages for each school, electronic messaging, digital and print newsletters, home visits, volunteer programs, and informational events. Through our Family Resource Center and School Readiness programs, parents at the primary level participate in many activities, which support their children's growth and development. Parents and guardians are encouraged to join the PTO/PTA and Partners in Education (P.I.E.), which is a parent-teacher-student organization at the high school. In addition, we are fortunate to have active and enthusiastic athletic and booster clubs, which host and support programs for students and families. Ranked the "3rd Best School District for Your Buck in Connecticut" by NerdWallet, Inc. and 2015 U.S. News & World Report Bronze Award Winner for America's Best High Schools, in partnership with students, families and the community, our schools strive to nurture learners that are productive, responsible, independent and dedicated to excellence (P.R.I.D.E.), thereby reflecting the district's theme, "It takes a whole village to raise a child".
For more information about education in Stafford please visit the Stafford Public Schools Website or contact the Stafford Board of Education.
INDUSTRY & COMMERCE
Business and industry have always played an important role in the development of Stafford. Dating from the time when a local factory manufactured cannon and shot for the Colonial Army, to the more modern requirements of producing printed circuits, Stafford has always hosted diverse industries. A fine balance of manufacturing, retail and service industries presently exist. Among the many benefits available to Stafford business and industries:
- Modern sewer plant
- Ample water supply for processing
- Good access to I-84, I-91 and the Mass. Pike
- Proximity to Bradley Airport and Westover Field
- Available factory space
- Industrial space available
- Skilled, dedicated work force
- Favorable tax base, with state and local incentives
- Active economic development efforts
COMMUNITY & CULTURE
Stafford has always had active civic organizations. Today there are a number of clubs which contribute to the town's vitality. Among them are: Lion's Club, Rotary Club, regional Chamber of Commerce, Stafford Fish and Game Club, Italian Benefit Society, VFW, American Legion, Rod and Gun Club, Grange, Masons, music and arts groups, Historical Society, along with all ages of Scout troops.
The Stafford community has always promoted togetherness. Town parades are common as well as outdoor public concerts and holiday celebrations. Whether you're looking to play a song on an open mic night, send cookies to soldiers overseas for the holidays or enjoy a free movie at the library - Stafford has something for everyone to enjoy.
Churches of many denominations are found in Stafford including: Baptist, Congregational, Episcopal, Lutheran, Unitarian/Universalist, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Word of Life Assembly of God.