Educational movement - Cape schools pack for massive move

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Want to help?

If you would like to volunteer to help the Cape Girardeau School District move on May 23 and 24 contact any school district principal for details.

Cape Girardeau schools are packing up for massive move

By Heather Kronmueller ~ Southeast Missourian

The Cape Girardeau School District has been preparing for months for what administrators are calling the move of the century -- the reconfiguration of grades five through twelve.

The current fifth and sixth grade classrooms, junior high school, L. J. Schultz school, high school and new Central High School add up to a combined 610,400 square feet.

Superintendent Dan Steska says if you compare that amount to a home of 2,200 square feet, the reconfiguration is the equivalent of moving into or out of 277 houses.

The district plans to do almost all of the moving on the last two days of school -- May 23 and 24 -- with the help of students, parents and community volunteers.

Steska said the district's only rain plan is to have faculty, and whatever volunteers can be found, help during the week of May 27.

Some larger items, like industrial technology equipment and filing cabinets, will be moved by maintenance staff during the summer.

Parent approval

"My first thought was that it wasn't right, the kids should be doing school work," parent Deborah Kays said. "But then I thought they don't do any work the last week anyway, so why not?"

Kays said the more she thought about the plan the more she liked it. She has four children in district, including her youngest son Steven, a sixth-grader at Alma Schrader Elementary School who she says is proud to be able to help the district.

Larry Lusk, parent of an eighth-grade daughter and himself a graduate of Central High School, said the district's idea to allow parents and community members to help with the move is great.

"I doubt that it's the most efficient way to do something like that, but it's probably the most cost-effective," Lusk said. "I think generally speaking parent involvement in school functions is valuable and worthwhile for both the students and the parents. I think it gives them a feeling like they are part of the school."

Steska said the district will take all the volunteers it can get for the move.

He said the volunteers are appreciated and won't walk away empty-handed.

MAB Paints has donated 2,500 painter's caps, which will be printed with the phrase "#1 Mover" and given to each volunteer. They will also be treated to free popsicles, bottled water and soda.

The district has had some of the items donated, but still needs local businesses to donate the water and soda.

The popsicles are already supplied. When warm weather heated up classrooms at the start of the school year, the district stocked up on popsicles, but students didn't end up eating all of them. There are about 1,000 left in a district freezer.

Packing boxes

Since April 1, teachers have been packing boxes with items they won't need for the rest of the year. The teachers place a sticker on each box with their name, future school and room number before sending it out to a trailer located behind each school.

By May 23 all of the instructional items from the elementary schools and Schultz that will move to a new school will be packed. That day students, parents, school staff and other volunteers will load the remaining boxes and other classroom items, like desks, into the trailers.

That evening the trailers will be pulled over to the current junior high school.

On May 24 the last items to move from the current high school will be moved into trailers and everything from the current junior high school will be moved across the campus to the current high school.

Once the junior high items are moved into the new school, the fifth and sixth grade items will be moved from the trailers into the current junior high school while the items from Schultz will be moved into the current high school.

All of the items going to the new high school will be kept in storage until the facility is complete this summer. Any heat sensitive items, like computers and video tapes, will be stored separately in a school district building.

Keeping items for the new high school in storage instead of placing them in the gymnasium or another large room will ultimately save time, Steska said. School officials only want to have to move the items once.

"We're hesitant to take over the building too early," he said. "We did the same thing when we moved into the Career and Technology Center. Some things sat out there for two or three months."

Steska said he has no doubt the items will be safe in the trailers.

Year of purge

The district's eight principals have been preparing their teachers for the move since the beginning of the school year.

Central High School principal Mike Cowan said he created a theme for the year: Purge. He said he's been encouraging teachers to get rid of clutter.

"The move itself is somewhat daunting," Cowan said. "This will be the fourth move I've experienced so I bear testimony that it can be done."

Cowan said the move has been on the agenda for each of the semimonthly faculty meetings for a while, but it hasn't been discussed in great detail with the students.

"We haven't wanted to distract them too much from the MAP," he said, referring to the Missouri Assessment Program test. "We're trying to time this so at some point we move efficiently, but also have a high quality conclusion to the end of our academic year. We don't want people to move into the move mentality just yet."

Lee Gattis, principal at Schultz, said he hasn't talked about the move in great detail with his students either, but senses excitement among both students and teachers.

"Schultz has been around a long time," Gattis said. " Some will miss the building, but everybody's adapting and a lot of people are excited and want to see their new rooms."

Pat Renard has taught family and consumer sciences at Schultz for 11 years. Prior to that she taught at Central High School for 18 years. At the end of the year she will move her classroom items back to the current high school building, which will house grades seven and eight next year.

"It's like I'm going back home," she said. "I don't have to learn a new building. It's kind of exciting."

Lindsey Greene, a student at Schultz, is excited about the move as well.

"I think it's neat that we get to help," she said. "It would be really hard for just the teachers to do it themselves."

Johnathon Lewis, also a student at Schultz, said he doesn't mind the work.

"It's cool," he said. "It'll be the last day so we won't have anything to do anyway."

Central Junior High School principal, Gerald Richards, said he's heard some of his eighth and ninth grade students say they are looking forward to the move and others who question why they have to come to school on the last day just to help with the move.

"We're encouraging them to come and be of assistance," Richards said. "But I'm sure some will look at that as a free day."

335-6611, extension 128

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