By: MICHELLE REIFF Review Staff firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
As the days of summer come to a close and children gear up for the start of the new school year, one group of youngsters in particular has a new experience in the horizon to look forward to…. many old faces, some new ones and a different school with an addition in the works.
The closing of Schoeneck Elementary School in June marked the end of a 46-year era for a community and changes for students and families. However, the teachers and staff of Denver Elementary School, where the former Schoeneck students will make their new home, have taken it upon themselves to make their transition a smooth and rewarding one.
Last week over 130 students and families took advantage of the opportunity to walk the halls and classrooms of the building in tours given by student council members. Although new student tours are done every year, this one was a little bit different because a good portion of the visitors were Schoeneck families. Not only did they see where they will start spending their days in less than a week, but they had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the "work in progress" — the new wing to be completed in December, which will house several second and third grade classrooms.
"Personally I like them all coming here," Denver Principal Angela Marley said of the decision to bring all former Schoeneck students to Denver rather that to merge them with another student body or disperse them into several elementary schools. Marley served as their principal several years back at Schoeneck and is very excited to work with them again.
"For the kids, it’s going to expand their friendship base, Marley said. "I think it’s going to be more familiar to them than they thought it would be."
When Cocalico School District decided to close Schoeneck Elementary School last spring due to repairs needed and opted to build an addition to Denver Elementary School instead, merging the two student bodies, a working list was created of things that would be done to help the new students to adjust.
An evening was planned where parents and students came to the school this spring. Joint participation in a health fair and a day of shared activities at Denver to replace a rained out combined field trip to Dorney Park rounded out the transition. In addition, each Schoeneck student was assigned a pen-pal from Denver, and the children wrote and e-mailed each other back and forth.
An open house for parents and students on Aug. 24 will supplement the new student tours, during which the PTA and community organizations will offer both internal and extracurricular ways to get involved in the school environment.
According to Marley, with the addition of the Schoeneck students, the class size didn’t increase greatly for some grade levels, so there wasn’t a need to add an additional class. For the grade levels that were larger, an extra class was added. In all, the addition of one second, one fourth and one fifth grade class was needed to accommodate the increased student body.
More space will be created for new students with the building addition, which is anticipated to be completed in December. Denver second and third grades currently share an area of the existing building with Cocalico Middle School. The new wing will house 12 classrooms; upstairs will be grade three and downstairs will be grade two. This will free up space in the shared wing which the middle school needs and make room for the new students.
Although the construction is set to be completed mid-school year, the only classes that will be moved right away will be the ones in the shared space. Any other moves will occur after the 2011-2012 year.
So what’s next in the transitioning?
"School is going to start," said Marley, who feels the preparations have been successful, the new students are ready for the first day and will be warmly welcomed. "Kids are great; they are very adaptable."