Change is in the air for Wyoming Area School District elementary students, who start school on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
The Primary Center in Wyoming, formerly Tenth Street Elementary, and the Intermediate Center in West Pittston, formerly Montgomery Avenue Elementary, both held open houses Thursday to allow families to tour the buildings and find classrooms.
“I think it’s been great,” said Intermediate Center Principal Joe Long of the open houses. “There have been a lot of questions, important questions on drop off and pickup that Montgomery people already know. The people that are driving their kids asking where they drop off, where do they come in from and I have stuff online on how to do that.”
After the Wyoming Area School Board elected to close the Harding-based Sarah J. Dymond Elementary School, a new center-based system was put into place.
Kindergarten students will all conjoin to the Kindergarten Center in Exeter, formerly JFK Elementary, while those in grades 1-3 will attend the Primary Center and grades 4-6 will be in the Intermediate Center.
Principal Jon Pollard, at the helm of both the Kindergarten and Primary centers, believes this new system will work better.
“The biggest piece is having all of the same grade together,” he said. “When we were stretched out across the district and across the buildings, there were barriers at times to doing professional development, maintaining consistency about providing programming to students and meeting those social needs. We also had situations where you lived in West Pittston and moved to West Wyoming, did you stay there or move here? Now, it’s simple. You live in the district, and you go (to the Kindergarten Center) for kindergarten and so on.”
According to Pollard, there are around 470 students enrolled in the Primary Center, 545 in the Intermediate Center and 171 in the Kindergarten Center.
The Intermediate and Primary centers will have seven sections of each class.
First grade classes will be on the Primary Center’s first floor while second and third grade classes will be on the second floor.
At the Intermediate Center, sixth grade classes will be on the second floor while fifth grade will be on the first and second floors on one side of the building and fourth grade will be on the first and second floors on the other side.
Pollard will continue to serve as the principal for both the Intermediate and Kindergarten centers, but with Sarah J. Dymond now closed, Long can focus solely on the Intermediate Center.
“To me, it’ll be a lot less hectic,” he said. “As far as running the building and working with the kids, it’s going to be far more consistent.”
One of the biggest concerns for families is how they will transport their children to their new schools.
Pollard and Long both said students who have to travel from one municipality to another for school will be transported by bus.
Buses will pick up students in Exeter Township as well, and they said special needs students will be transported by van.
Harding resident Lisa Stepanski is sending her two children, Matt, 11, and Alyssa, 10, to the Intermediate Center.
Matt is entering sixth grade and was already set to leave Sarah J. Dymond Elementary, while his younger sister Alyssa, who is entering fifth grade, still had one more year to go.
Lisa said her children will take the bus to school and that they aren’t too nervous of their new environment because they will still have friends.
“They’ll have their old friends, plus they both play baseball, so they already know a lot of other kids,” she said.
Long noted that if parents are dropping students off at different schools, there is a 25-minute window between 8:35 and 9 a.m. that he believes is enough time to get students to where they need to be.
Picking them up, he said, is a different story.
“The students are more than welcome to hang out in the school until they’re picked up,” he said. “I’m here until 4:30 anyway, so they’re more than welcome to hang out.”
Holly Mannis, and her husband Patrick, of West Pittston will transport their son, 7-year-old Aiden, from West Pittston to Wyoming.
Aiden is entering third grade in the Primary Center after spending his first few years at Montgomery Avenue Elementary, but a change of scenery isn’t stopping him from being positive.
“I really wanna check out all of the rooms and the playground,” he said. “I did already check out the playground; it’s like my old one except it has new parts and it’s bigger.”
Holly said Aiden will ride the bus and the biggest challenge will be waking her son up in the morning.
“He takes a while in the morning,” she said. “He likes to relax a little.”
Long said he believes students will be enthused about being all together in one location, while Pollard is excited about meeting new students.
“I’m excited to see the new crop of kids that I haven’t seen before,” he said. “I’m excited to meet some new students, some new families and I really think we can come together here at the Primary Center, at the Kindergarten Center and at the Intermediate Center and all grow together.”
Aside from the new building and playground, Aiden is ready to get back to learning about his favorite subject: science.
“I can’t wait to learn about volcanoes and how they explode,” he said.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher