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Kids Provide The Finishing Touch To The Reed School ––Excitement

Published: January 7, 2003

TANJUA DAMON-MERROW

    Kids Provide The Finishing Touch To The Reed School ––Excitement

    By Tanjua Damon

    “One small step for a child. One giant leap for Newtown,” Superintendent of Schools Evan Pitkoff said as he stepped off the first bus that arrived at the opening of Reed Intermediate School Monday.

    A 90-minute delay from snow only added to the excitement of approximately 850 fifth and sixth graders who were seeing the inside of the 168,000-square-foot building for the first time. Dr Pitkoff rode Bus 12 to the new school and enjoyed observing the children as they made their way with many fellow students they had not met before to a school that was new to everybody.

    “We’re very happy with the way it opened,” Dr Pitkoff said. “I’m very impressed with the fact that the students were learning the minute they entered the building.”

    Principal Donna Denniston was impressed with the way students stayed focused amid the normal anticipation and excitement they felt in attending a new school. The office staff was even processing new students registering the first day.

     “It was wonderful. In the big picture things worked out pretty well,” Ms Denniston said. “It was a strange mixture of calm and excitement. The students seemed like they had been here for six months. While at the same time they were just ecstatic.

     “My favorite moment was when I was down in the bus area in the morning. The moment I saw the students getting off the buses and enter the school was the moment I had anticipated and worried about,” Ms Denniston added. “But the students were focused and knew where to go. I knew at that point it was going to be a good day. The opening day happened the way it did because the teachers prepared the children and themselves.”

    Assistant Principal Tony Salvatore admitted he did not sleep much the night before the school opening because of the excitement.

    “I didn’t sleep at all last night [Sunday night],” Mr Salvatore said. “I was excited and eager to get started with the students.”

    “[The first day was] excellent,” he added. “It was kind of like we never left, ironically since we were never here. Like a well oiled machine.”

    Sixth grade teacher Sara Strait was just as excited as her students on the first day back to school.

    “I think it’s totally cool. It’s everything I expected and more,” Mrs Strait said. “It’s awesome!”

    The students eagerly got off the bus or out of their parents’ car to head to their respective “blue” or “green” house where their classrooms are. The yellow-covered walls added to the liveliness of students arriving on the first day of school.

    The tours of the cafetorium and gymnasium brought big eyes and more excitement. Students were amazed by their lunch choices. Fifth graders loved moving up to lockers from their elementary school “cubbies.”

    The students described the school as “cool,” “awesome,” “rad,” “narley,” “sweet,” “interesting,” and “far out.” They were also impressed with the bathroom sinks because they are “swirling,” as one student explained. They also liked the computer labs and cafetorium.

    Parent Steve Bamberg, who was serving as a guide to help students if needed, was pleased with the final product.

    “It looks really nice. It’s beautiful,” Mr Bamberg said. “It’s nothing like I had. But it’s very light and there are a lot of windows.”

    Ms Denniston said that the tour guides, parents dressed with red shirts, were a wonderful help. They were assigned to help students find where they needed to go and could be found throughout the school. The tour guides were expected to be at the school all week.

    She also praised the custodial staff for its hard work and patience. “They are phenomenal,” Ms Denniston said.

    Teachers at the school worked a little over vacation and January 2 and 3 to make sure their classrooms were ready for the students on the first day.

    Haynes Construction of Seymour began construction on the school in June 2001 after the town approved the project. It has 44 classrooms, a gymnasium, auxiliary gym, cafetorium, media center, science labs, computer labs, music rooms for band, orchestra, and chorus, administrative offices, guidance suite, and art rooms. The school also has a courtyard and sports fields.

    There are still punch list items to be complete and the library media center has to be assembled since the carpet has been replaced. The technology department is still working to get the computers up and running throughout the school.

    Director of Transportation Mary Kelly felt the day went well, but there are still a few kinks in the system that need to be worked out. She asked parents and students to be patient as the drivers and transportation office work out the best system to transport the students to and from school.

    “None of the buses are overloaded. They are tight the first couple of miles,” Ms Kelly said. “I think overall it went very well.”

    Assistant Superintendent Alice Jackson wore a huge smile opening day along with a pin that said, “Read.”

    “I think the staff did a wonderful job getting this building ready,” Ms Jackson said. “This is what it’s about. The building is alive; before it was just a warehouse.”