New Year: AVES

School is ready to roll at Allegheny Valley Elementary School in Clarendon.

With the closure of Sheffield Elementary School, all students in kindergarten through fifth grade in the eastern attendance area will now be at AVES.

But the closure does not bring significant changes, according to Principal Steve Parinella.

“Every student has been in this building before,” Parinella explained.

Prior to the 2011-2012 school year, both AVES and SES were K-5 facilities. Beginning in 2011-2012, K-2 students in the eastern attendance area attended AVES while third through fifth graders were at SES.

Because of the “Sheffield Shuffle” as it was dubbed at the time, class sizes will not be affected by this most recent merger because the grade shuffling already occurred.

“Class sizes would be the same as last year,” Interim Director of Pupil Services Ruth Nelson said.

Parinella explained that he was most recently principal at AVES two years ago and has been a principal in the eastern attendance area for the last four years. Along with administrative continuity, Parinella noted that all but two of the teachers slated to teach at AVES this fall have taught in the building previously.

Grades K-2 will be located downstairs with one second grade classroom on the second floor, according to Nelson. Grades 3-5 will be housed upstairs.

Parinella did say that the school will be adding a third lunch period this year, an increase from two last year. Grades four and five will eat during the first lunch period, kindergarten and Head Start during the second period, and grades one through three during the third period.

Regarding transportation, Parinella noted that, with the closure of SES, one bus route was actually eliminated, reducing overall transportation. He said that bus pick-up times remain the same.

It has taken some work to get the school ready, but Parinella noted, “We’re good to go.”

Nelson explained that all of the furnishings from Sheffield Elementary were brought to the school in June. The Sheffield Wolverines football team then helped move the furnishings from the gym to their destination classrooms.

Parinella said that what the football team was able to do in three hours could have taken school staff weeks. Parinella also said that about half of the teaching staff gave of their time to assist in the move-in.

While the district will be able to save a significant amount of money as a result of the merger, new learning opportunities will emerge as a result.

“Our fifth graders will take a big role in helping” kindergarteners and first graders, said Parinella. “There was a tutoring program before… we hope to do that again.”

Space also isn’t a concern as two rooms remain unassigned, even with Head Start located at AVES. Parinella said that the additional room means, “We have room to grow here.”

Here are some important dates to be aware of at AVES as the beginning of school approaches:

Aug. 22 Office opens

Sept. 3, 4 p.m. Kindergarten Open House

Sept. 4 First day of school

Sept. 5 Return all forms to school

Sept. 17, time: TBA Open House

Oct. 8 Picture Day

Oct. 14 No School

Nov.14 Parent/Teacher Conference Day