New Students, New Halls

The latest Warren County School District building is ready for school.

Teachers and staff at Eisenhower Elementary School are looking forward to working in a brand new facility.

“It’s so exciting,” Principal Marcia Madigan said. “We’re thrilled.”

The school was opened to students and their families Wednesday for a walk-through.

“We’ve had a lot of positive comments,” Madigan said. “The kids are excited.”

“It’s good,” fourth-grader Caleb Penley, who had previously attended Sugar Grove Elementary, said. “It’s bigger than the other. It’s newer.”

He said he is “a little bit sad” that Sugar Grove closed, but is more excited than usual for the start of school.

Becca Penley liked getting a look at her new first-grade classroom. “I like it because it has a lot of frogs in it,” she said.

Not everything about a new school is better for the school’s youngest students, though. “This one’s a little bigger and hard to walk through,” she said.

“There’s a turtle in my class,” kindergarten student Chloe Dunbar said. She is excited to see the building again. “Then it will be all done and it looks nice.”

Her mother, Jeni, a former Eisenhower student, agreed. “It’s nice,” she said. “I used to come here. It’s so different. I’m impressed with it.”

Not every student could explain why they liked the building.

“I like it,” first-grader Jordan Burlingame said. “I just like it.”

The teachers are enthusiastic, too.

“Absolutely love it,” fourth-grade teacher Sharon Nowacki said. “It’s clean. It’s wonderful. It’s spacious.”

“The combination of the two schools is going to be great,” she said. Her classroom motto is “I READ: Ike pRide – Everyone Achieves Daily.”

“They really moved mountains to get us in here,” learning support teacher Karen Donovall said. “It looks great.”

“I’m very excited about collaborating with the other grade levels,” fifth- and sixth-grade special education teacher Elishia Wurst said. “Before, I didn’t have many other professionals to share ideas with.”

Now, “everything’s all here in one building,” Wurst said. “We’ll be able to come up with great ideas now that we have more staff together here.”

Elementary students will be able to work and interact with high school students. “I think that relationship is going to be very strong,” she said.

While most of the comments were positive, not everyone was as enthusiastic about the consolidation.

William Howell expressed his appreciation for the facility, “the space is definitely a lot nicer,” he said. “It’s very nice and looks very good. They did a nice job with adding on and the repairs.”

But, he is concerned about what bringing students from two buildings together into one means in terms of class sizes.

“I’m concerned about one-on-one time,” he said.

Administrators expected the consolidation to save the district money on staffing by allowing the same number of students to be divided into fewer groups.

While the elementary school is ready, not all the work at the attached Eisenhower Middle High School is complete. Some of the work impacts the elementary building.

Until the middle high school music suite at is finished, buses will drop elementary students off near the main EES office. Students will be escorted across one lane of parking. “That will be supervised by a teacher every day until the band room is finished,” Principal Marcia Madigan said.

After that, students will be dropped off right next to the building and will not have to enter at the office door.

Officials plan to hold a full community open house in December.