'The Big Move' for schools in Cape begins

Friday, May 24, 2002

'BETTER THAN CLASS'

WANT TO HELP?

Cape Girardeau School District superintendent Dan Steska said volunteers are still needed to help unload trailers at the junior and senior high schools today. If you would like to help, contact either of the schools for more information.

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By Heather Kronmueller ~ Southeast Missourian

L.J. Schultz School looked like a giant yard sale Thursday with desks, boxes of books and cabinets scattered across the front lawn.

But the items weren't for sale. They were part of what teachers and administrators in the Cape Girardeau School District are referring to as "The Big Move."

Tractor trailers have been parked outside each of the district's eight buildings since the end of April, slowly filling up with boxes of teaching materials and extra furniture.

Next year grades nine through 12 will move into a new high school building on Silver Springs Road. The current high school will become a junior high for seventh- and eighth-graders and the current junior high school will become a middle school for grades five and six.

The school district had picked the last two days of school for the move to facilitate greater student, parent and volunteer involvement in the process.

On Thursday, involvement by volunteers varied among the schools. But more are expected today, which will require a bigger moving effort.

Loading trailers

Thursday, students and teachers loaded everything that could be carried out of Schultz on trailers and moved to the current high school campus on Caruthers Avenue. At the same time, everything from fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms across the district were loaded onto separate trailers and moved to the current junior high school.

Superintendent Dan Steska said he was excited that the first half of the move came off without problems.

"It's a little bit like waiting for a baby to be born," he said. "You hope all goes well and you're relieved when it's finished. So far it's been a success."

Part two of "The Big Move" comes today as two groups of students, teachers and volunteers unload the trucks at their destinations. Another group will carry items from the current junior high school to the high school, and a fourth group will carry items out of the high school to be put on trailers headed for the new high school.

When the district announced its plan earlier in the year and said students would be helping with the move, some parents and faculty questioned whether it was a good idea.

Students said Thursday they always thought it was a good idea.

"It's better than being in class," said seventh-grader Abigail Pratt. "We've been moving tables around, carrying chairs from the attic and cleaning desks. I'm worn out and it's only 10 o'clock."

When principals and teachers saw how much the students pitched in to help, they couldn't praise the students enough.

"They have just worked themselves out," said Rhonda Dunham, principal at Franklin Elementary. "They've been excellent."

Dunham said the children were so determined to get the job done they didn't even want to stop for a break.

"We had to make them take breaks," she said. "Someone brought in soda and cookies, and that didn't even get them to stop."

Ann Milam, an English and reading teacher at Schultz, said she didn't have enough good words to say about the students.

"The kids have been just marvelous," she said. "We couldn't have the whole school involved, so some of the kids had to stay in the library and watch a movie, and they have been great about keeping out of the way."

Students' choice

Students got to decide whether they wanted to help move or stay in the library.

At Schultz, students and teachers spent the first three hours of the day carrying boxes and classroom items outside. By 11 a.m. the majority of the moving was complete.

"We're ready to be in our new building," said Lee Gattis, principal at Schultz. "Everything is working out so far."

Gerald Richards, principal at the junior high, said his students didn't do any moving Thursday, but they will today.

Thursday, junior high students attended an awards assembly, emptied out their lockers and signed each other's yearbooks.

"I hope everybody gets a good night's sleep tonight," Richards said. "The elementary schools are sending eight trailers over here. They've got a lot of stuff we're going to be unloading."

Students at Central High School didn't do a lot moving Thursday either.

"We have had a half day of moving and a half day of semester exams," said principal Mike Cowan. "We have continued to be academic right up to the end."

A lot of the moving at the high school has been outside of school hours.

Cowan said a group of students and parent volunteers spent eight hours Saturday packing and moving boxes and classroom items to trailers. That's the reason his building is ready for the junior high to move in today.

"It's only because we have such an outstanding group of students, parents and faculty that we are well on our way," he said. "They have been wonderful."

Steska said if the weather cooperates today, the move should be nearly finished by midday.

If it rains, he said, the district will get done what it can and leave the rest for volunteers to move next week or maintenance crews to move over the summer.

hkronmueller@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 128

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