2012-06-22 / In the News

Students, parents get Wentworth peek

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

Lisa Liponis and her children, Jason and T.J., stop to talk with Wentworth Building Committee member Kristin Schuler and check out some flooring samples from the new intermediate school. (Michael Kelley photo) Lisa Liponis and her children, Jason and T.J., stop to talk with Wentworth Building Committee member Kristin Schuler and check out some flooring samples from the new intermediate school. (Michael Kelley photo) Soon-to-be Wentworth Intermediate School parents were among the many people who turned out last week to see the latest plans for a new intermediate school

The open house was hosted by members of the Wentworth Intermediate School Building Committee to update the public about the work the committee has done in the seven months since the referendum to construct a new school passed in November.

The event included flooring and carpet samples, architectural drawings of the new school, information about proposed energy initiatives, a new playground and a 3D tour of the new school.

Rebecca Wandell, a mother of three, including a daughter who just completed fifth grade at Wentworth, said she is thrilled the school is being replaced and was excited to see the plans.

“It’s overdue. The school really needed to be redone,” Wandell said.

While her daughter will not see the benefits of a new school, Wandell’s two younger children, one who will be starting first grade this fall and another who will begin kindergarten in 2013, will be among the first students to go to school in the new facility.

“I can’t say how excited we are,” Wandell said. “We are really happy with the community stepping up and saying they really wanted to see an investment in our school system.”

Some residents throughout the process have argued that the 164,000 square foot school is simply too big, but others, such as Lynn Kelleher, a Scarborough parent, thinks the school is the right size.

“I love it. It looks beautiful. I love the size and the design looks nice,” Kelleher said. “This is really the first time I have seen it like this in 3D.”

Kelleher was one of the many parents who stopped by to learn more about the new Wentworth Intermediate School after an orientation program for incoming thirdgrade students, a group that includes her son. The third-grade class will be the only class to attend both the old and new Wentworth schools. The new school is expected to open for the 2014-2015 school year.

“He will be in the fifth-grade class when the new school opens,” Kelleher said. “We’ve heard great things about the teachers. We are looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good change.”

Wandell said she has followed the process in planning for the new school and was excited to see what the building committee had accomplished to this point.

“I have seen some of the plans in the past, but I understand there was some changes that were made. I was interested to see those changes,” Wandell said.

The open house offered others their first look at the intermediate school plans.

“I can’t say I am unhappy with the plans,” said David Canatsey, whose children are going into kindergarten, third grade and fifth grade. “It is needed. While it is cheap to borrow money, it is a good time to do this.”

The new school will eliminate some of the challenges of the existing school, which have included asbestos and mold problems, the lack of proper fire suppression and ventilation systems, and a poor layout that required some students to walk several hallways to get to their classes or the bathroom.

Furthermore hallways cannot be sectioned off on the weekends when community events are held at the school and classrooms cannot be locked from the inside in case of an emergency inside the school.

Wandell said in the fall of 2010 when her daughter was just beginning fourth grade, she came home from school physically sick because of the lack of proper air flow in her classroom. Just before school started that year, high levels of asbestos were found on window sills in a number of classrooms. Teachers were ordered to keep the windows closed – so as not to release the asbestos in the air – even during the stretch of high heat in September. The windows were eventually replaced, but not before teachers and students, Wandell’s daughter included, complained about overheating in the classrooms.

“That made me angry, because that shouldn’t have been happening,” Wandell said.

Lisa Liponis, a parent of two boys going into second and third grade, is also familiar with the issues in the school as both a parent and as an educator.

“I sub at the school and I would have a hard time being in the school six or seven hours a day (with the issues at the school). I am looking forward to the kids having a cleaner, more open learning environment. I am looking forward to a new school. The teachers are great and everything about the school district is fantastic,” Liponis said.

Wentworth Intermediate School Principal Anne-Mayre Dexter, who split her time between the open house and the new student orientation, said she was pleased with the turnout at the open house and the enthusiasm expressed by building committee members, who were on hand to answer questions and Scarborough families.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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