One of the most important areas in my children’s lives is their education. Not only what they learn in the classroom but how they learn, the experience they have with the other children, environment which to they are subjected on a day-to-day-basis. What happens when all of this is put in jeopardy? The potential closing of our beloved elementary school is being toyed with and as a member of the community I want to do my part to help see to it that this does not happen.
South Elementary School has been in the community for over 60 years.
Located on the East side of Third Ave, the building bears an eye-catching, large, colorful bay window and it situated on a generous plot of grassy land. Flower beds patiently wait for the touch of a meticulous green thumb. A large grass field fills up each afternoon with screams of laughter as the children at recess toss the football in what can only be described as the most important football game of their school day, only to be started all over again the next day.
Two of the warmest faces sit at the front office, welcoming you by name each time you enter the building. A principal sits in his office who not only takes pride in his position, but graduated from the district, played on the football team and taught in the classroom.
The low hum of chatter and playful banter fills the hall as you walk past the cafeteria at lunch time. One can only imagine what serious conversations are being held in there. Students huddled together in groups in their classrooms, deep in conversation, their minds sponges, absorbing so much information. 3rd graders walking in a single file line, quiet as mice, on their way to their favorite special.
And that lowly parent walking vastly down the hall, trying, but failing miserably to hide their excitement in surprising their child as the mystery reader.
South Elementary houses the Autistic Support Team. It is a Distinguished Title 1 School for the 3rd Year in a row by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). South offers Project Silver ( Success in Learning for Very Early Readers) in which the children who are struggling in reading are guided one on one to help get on grade level with their peers. South offers after school activities such as Reading Olympics, Lego club, Chess club, After School Sports, Girls on the Run and lends the building to private groups such as the Boy & Girl Scouts and PV Youth Basketball on the weekends.
In addition, South won Best in State in the 2018 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
and was featured on Fox 29’s Kelly’s Classroom to highlight South’s initiative, the 200 Club- to recognize children who support the South Community by being Respectful & Responsible, Safe & Kind.
South has a very welcoming Home and School organization. Known to others as a PTA, the Home and School contributes so much to the school annually, from school functions like Trunk or Treat, Fun Fair, and Fifth Grade Celebration to creative ways to raise funding like South Kids Care. This project collected funds to be distributed to South families in need this holiday season.
The value of this school goes beyond the education that our children receive everyday. To my children, South is their second home. They spend hours a day with friends and teachers. As a parent I trust the teachers and staff to take care of my children, both intellectually and emotionally. I have not met a teacher that I have not liked. I walk the hallways and am greeted with big smiles by each of my sons’ teachers. They have a genuine interest in how they are progressing in school. It does not matter how many years have passed, these teachers have made a lasting impression on my boys, and they on them, and I see it first hand every time I set foot in South. This type of school culture is hard to come by and is being threatened.
A lot of decisions have to be made in order to do what is best for the community, district and, above all else, the children. Many hours of research will be done, copious amounts of data will have to be collected to justify the closing of such a great institution. This page will serve as the central hub to the pertinent information collected by many people to help our community understand what is happening and tidbits of meetings and discussions between members of the community and the children.
The current situation at South Elementary School is very similar to many schools across the nation. Built in the 1950’s, the school shows the normal wear and tear of a building that has seen better days. But the warmth and character of the building, the location, and the faculty are vibrant and full of life. As with many older buildings, including homes in the area that were built around the same time, there are updates that are necessary to ensure that our children are learning in a safe and healthy environment.
The district has offered three options: Renovate South, Rebuild South, or Redistrict and close South. All these options have substantial costs and can impact the area greatly.
My goal is to offer the necessary factual information by way of noted articles. These Notes will help gain a greater understanding of what this means for our district and most importantly give us the knowledge to….