Middle school construction projects does not hinder return to class


By Lindsay Carey
Staff Writer
Significant progress was made over the summer for the construction projects at DePaolo Middle School and Kennedy Middle School and the transition into the upgraded buildings has been going smoothly as the new school year has recently started.
According to the middle school principals, the students have been able to transition fluidly because of the teachers.
The buildings were open to teachers the weekend prior to school starting and many of the teachers took their last bit of summer to go in early and prepare their classrooms.
“We are very proud of the staff,” said DePaolo Middle School Principal Frank Pepe. “They had a very short amount of time and they dedicated countless hours over the weekend to prep their rooms and get it looking good for the kids.”
Chris Palmieri, assistant principal of DePaolo Middle School and Town Councilor, also credited teachers for their hard work in transforming unfinished rooms into functional classrooms at the Town Council meeting on Sept. 8.
Palmieri shared pictures of what the classrooms with unfinished floors and ceilings looked like before and after the teachers came back to school and transformed them.
Town Council Chair Michael Riccio, who has a child in one of the middle schools, said that as a parent he was pleased that he could physically see the transformation of the schools.
Riccio also said that he has not heard much from his child about the ongoing projects, because it has not been disrupting the students every day classroom routines.
“There are so many other things to focus based on what the teacher has planned,” said Pepe. “I think they are pretty resilient to what is going on.”
There are multiple phases of the construction project and according to Pepe, there is still a great deal of work to be done at DePaolo. The kitchen, auditorium and some of the classrooms in the buildings are still under construction, Pepe said
“Seeing the finished parts of the building gives everyone hope,” said Pepe.
Steve Madancy, principal at Kennedy Middle School, said that the projects will not be completed until August.
Madancy explained that the school has managed to adapt. Some teachers moved into finished renovated spaces, while others moved into unfinished classrooms and made due with that space.
“The teachers absolutely stepped up and went above and beyond,” said Madancy.
Other than the teachers, Madancy credited the Newfield Construction team for getting the buildings ready for the students to come back to school.
“A lot of progress occurred over the summer and the kids were excited coming in and seeing how different the building looked,” said Madancy.
Pepe said that the changes surprised the students in grades 7 and 8 the most, because they saw the buildings last year and didn’t entirely know what to expect.
Thus far, parents have been reacting positively to the changes that they can see in the buildings from outside as they pull in to drop their children off.
The middle schools held an information session for parents and the public regarding the renovation project, prior to school starting. In addition, the middle school’s Open House is this week.