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Gearing up for the last year of school PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 19:07

Grafton Elementary School embarks upon its final year of classes as students and teachers remember decades of education in building that will be demolished

    As the school year unfolds for 365 students and 51 faculty members at Grafton Elementary School, this learning community embraces the start of its last year.
    “We’re committed to having the best last year ever,” Karen Noel, the school’s principal, said. “We care deeply about each other and we’re a cohesive team. We are cognizant that we will continue to carry out our mission after this year but just in a different location with new team members.”
    Grafton Elementary School will be deconstructed at the end of the school year after voters passed a $39.9 million referendum in April, which calls for the expansion of Woodview and Kennedy grade schools because the foundation of Grafton Elementary School is sinking.
    The referendum is also budgeted for renovations and additions to Grafton High School, which is adjacent to the elementary school, and construction will begin this week.
    “There are so many new things to think about, like making sure our kids are safe with new fencing around the building and how we can help support the high school with their parking and student drop off,” Noel said. “The new projects are on people’s minds but we’re very excited for what the future holds.”
    According to Noel, the students are excited for the start of the year.
     “The kids don’t miss a beat. What they care about is being with their friends in a learning environment where they can feel successful,” she said. “On the first day of school, they were so excited to be here and that pumped all the teachers up.”
                For some of the teachers, the transition is bitter sweet.
    “It’s my home away from home. I’ve been here for 30 years,” said Grafton Elementary School kindergarten teacher Laura Jarvis, who is also an alumna of the school. “It’s sad that this is the last year here but I know the decision to close will have a better impact on the learning environment for our students.”
    Back in the 1970s, the building was home to Grafton High School – which had a wing for elementary school classes. Jarvis has spent 30 years in the school building, from being an elementary and high school student to teacher. She said she knows every inch of space like the back of her hand.
    “The building has been in constant change as the needs of Grafton change,” she said. “Everything about this school I think I’ve seen. I know every nook and cranny so it will be time to start a new adventure.”
    Grafton Elementrary School teachersMelissa Paszkowski and Julie Rottier also attended Grafton High School when it was located in the elementary school building.
    “It says a lot for them to come back and teach here,” Noel said. “They were happy here as students and they wanted to give back and commit themselves professionally to the school community. It’s important to have that longevity and see how things have progressed.”
    Jarvis noted that when the building was a high school, the track team used to practice in the hallways.
    “It’s kind of odd now when I think back about it, because I tell children not to run in the halls,” she said.
    She also said the library was previously situated on the second floor but that space is now the faculty lounge.
    Among the other notable changes of Grafton Elementary School over the years is the school’s nickname, which was originally the Owls, then the Chiefs and now the Wolves.
    As the school year progresses, the district will finalize its plans to consolidate students and teachers into the other two elementary schools.
    “We want to have a normal year and there’s no reason not to,” Noel said. “I think we’re really starting to put everything together like where the students are going to be and where the staff choices are going to leave teachers.”
    Noel mentioned that though there are some big changes up ahead, the students are focused on their present circumstance.
    “They know it’s the last year because they do tell me that it’s closing and a wrecking ball is coming,” she said. “But I think the gravity of what’s changing they don’t comprehend. They’re also excited for the construction trucks ­— that’s what they always tell me.”

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