CLEAR FORK VALLEY – Things got a little quiet in the hallways at the Butler Elementary School after youngsters there went home for the holidays last week.
But before they left, there was lots of laughter, and maybe a little sadness as kids — and teachers — reflected on their last months there.
They also were thinking ahead to the big event on Jan. 7.
That’s the day everyone will be looking at their new school lives in a brand new building.
Construction of the new Butler building, and its sister elementary school building in Bellville, has been going on for much of the year.
A goal was set to have the project finished so things could be moved over the Christmas and New Year’s break.
It all worked.
Teachers Lisa Kvochick, Sandy Woodhouse and Nancy Fox were happy to share their experiences while performing their over-the-holiday-break tasks.
They, like all other teachers and staff, were to pack up classroom books, papers, memorabilia and maybe even some gifts from students and put them in big plastic boxes.
An observer could maybe say there was a little competition to see who was faster, and who had the most boxes.
It wasn’t exactly a daunting experience, according to Kvochick. She said maybe there were “hoarders,” but the real challenge was to find out where to put all the leftover things that couldn’t be crammed into the totes.
Kvochick said she had 65 totes packed, and this was after they were delivered to the school last Thursday. Fox was still packing Monday of last week, but several helpers had arrived on the scene to assist teachers and staff.
Fox wasn’t sure what she would do about one adornment in her fourth grade room. One student had presented a photograph of Elvis Presley. It still hung on the wall.
Her room still had items she shared with her kids, because she introduced items of historic interest in the classroom.
A sad iron was there, as well as a soft stone.
Kvochick, whose kids are second graders, said she has probably taught 200 students in her time in the school system.
She said it was sweet when her kids said goodbye to their old room before they left to begin the Christmas holiday. She said her class was “so sweet” because they talked about being quiet so their teacher “could pack in peace.”
Woodhouse said people were taking pictures to mark the day. Her classroom is home to kindergarten students. One bright alphabet rug was still on the floor in her room. She said it probably would go into an auction, which will be held later … after items are moved into the new building.
Items from both the Butler and Bellville buildings will be offered at auction later in the year.
One major event before the official re-opening of school is an open house Jan. 3. This also will be an orientation session for parents and kids. It is from 6 to 7 p.m.
Fox said before the end of classes they all “packed and had a party.” Kids were making tin punch items they would mat, then take home to give as gifts.
The packing regime required teachers to load the totes, then stack then five high on a carrier. All totes had to be labeled with contents.
One item which brought a little bit of packing anxiety was Woodhouse’s piano. It is a Spinet, and she used it to sing with kindergarten students in her class. She said it required “special persuasion” to get it moved but the piano is “a part of me.” She said she “sings high” for the little kids. She is a soprano.
The move was organized, and a committee would make reports and answer questions, they all said.
Kvochick said things were “thought out.”
She said how people responded to the move “depends on the outlook. Most of it was cheerful,” she said.
People outside the school came into to help. The son of Principal Libby Nickoli appeared ,as did Shannon, Woodhouse’s daughter.
Shannon said a lot of students were appearing to help.
The three teachers talked about the history of the building. It was built in four segments. Kvochick said she had taught in all three buildings in the course of 30 years.
All the areas, she said, “hold something special.”
The building is somewhat oddly structured, because wings were added at various times. One lower level was originally a room for shop. It is now being used as an art room.
Kvochick said she was in school there when girls were allowed to start taking shop. Guys, who she said were “cut ups,” were told to take home economics.
Woodhouse said she was in a room on the third floor, and used to encounter the stairs. There are stairs to the third floor in some sections, and she said she used to run up and down the stairs when she was 28.
She said there will be two first days of school, because they will have to be comfortable showing up in a new building, then have to refresh new knowledge.
Some things that will be new when school starts again include:
- How and where do they line up?
- How do you familiarize yourself with the new restrooms?
In the new building, sinks are in the hallways. They are set up as troughs, where kids can push a lever and water will arrive.
Woodhouse said the new sinks will mean a shorter time in the bathroom.
Kvochick said this means it won’t be a “water park.”
Nickoli said 4,000 totes were delivered to the school. They will be moved to the new building by Dearman Moving and Storage.
She said people in the school are “doers.” She said if someone saw a need, they would get the problem fixed.
She talked about teacher Kathy Cole, who said she was done with her room and asked what she could do to help.
A man named Don Robinson showed up and asked to help. He helped the librarian box up books.
Nickoli said there was lots of preparation last week to help the kids.
On school opening day, parents can drop off their kids on the circular drive leading to the new building. Buses will enter the area from Wilson at the back of the building.
There are instructions on the Clear Fork Valley School District website, detailing procedures for the move at both schools. Something called PBIS is practiced in the schools, said Nickoli.
This means Position, Behavior, Intervention and Support, said Nickoli.
She and other school officials have simply been “plugging away,” she said.