Carmichaels readies students and parents for changes

August 21, 2014
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Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter
Carmichaels eighth graders Brittany Pollock and Megan O’Neil show their schedules for the 2014-15 school year to math teacher, Aaron Giorgi on visitation day Thursday. Order a Print
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Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter
A vacant classroom in the learning cottage at the Carmichaels Area School District is ready for the first day of school Monday. Order a Print

CARMICHAELS – Eighth-grade students in the Carmichaels Area School District were given a visitation day Thursday to help them acclimate to a different classroom before school begins Monday.

Seventh graders were introduced to their new classrooms Wednesday.

The district is undergoing a $25 million renovation project and things will be different for the 2014-15 school year.

While the junior high school is being renovated, seventh-and eighth-grade students will take the majority of their classes in what the district termed, “learning cottages.”

The temporary classrooms are connected to create a building with multiple rooms.

Walking through the hallway of the unit is no different than walking down the hallway in any of the existing school buildings.

Carmichaels Superintendent John Menhart said he repeatedly heard these classrooms are “nicer than the existing classrooms in the junior high school.”

“They are nice but not as nice as the new ones will be. I am really anxious to see them completed,” Menhart said.

“We have postponed the open house in the district until later because the cafeteria will be ready by then and we want people to see it.” An open house will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 6.

Menhart said the open house will have a different look and feel to it as parents will meet with each individual teacher.

“It will be very informative and very helpful,” he added.

The entrance to the learning cottages will be from the rear of the high school library through a specially constructed hallway that will be heated and air conditioned.

Students can access restrooms in the main building through the hallway.

A front entrance to the cottages will be locked to the outside and an alarm will sound if it is opened from the inside.

For the start of the school year, junior and senior high students will take their lunch to a designated section of the high school gymnasium.

Lunches will be prepared and brought to the gymnasium from the elementary cafeteria.

Students in the learning cottages will have a late lunch period by design, so they won’t have to move from the cottages multiple times. Instead, they will remain in the cottages until lunch and then attend any afternoon classes remaining on their schedules in the high school.

Parents are encouraged to pack healthy snacks and bottles of water for their children.

“Teachers are well aware of the water and snacks, and it will be part of the routine,” said junior/senior high school Principal Lisa Zdravecky. “When the new cafeteria is ready, it is going to be gorgeous.”

Since there will be no lockers for books inside the cottages, students will have a drop area inside each of the rooms where they can leave book bags.

Zdravecky said the students will not be bringing home a load of textbooks each night, but they are permitted to bring them home if needed.

She told parents and students gathered for the visitation she is establishing a new goal to create a parent, teacher and student organization to receive input about the school.

“After completing my second year here, I would love to have more parent involvement. I encourage you to get involved. I am always open to suggestions,” Zdravecky said.

She told students to look over the list of clubs and organizations available to them and become more actively involved.

Zdravecky said they should come to her if there is a group or activity not available they would like to see offered in the district.

She added she would like to see better communication with the community.

In the next two to three weeks, the district will roll out a website designed to be user-friendly and the administration is asking for feedback.

Menhart told parents and students he hoped the tour eased their minds about how things were going to look.

“I think we have a good plan in place. We are bringing the technology with the students. It is just going to be a different setup,” said Menhart. “We appreciate the cooperation of everyone.

“There will be some challenges, specifically with busing, referring to a new bridge being constructed along Route 88 next to the school. But we will be ready for them.”

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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