While area children head back to school this week, K-8 students in Gervais wont be in their new facilities until Monday

While most districts in the area started school this week, K-8 students in the Gervais School District will wait until Monday as they move to a new consolidated campus. by: LINDSAY KEEFER - Amy Hanes, a kindergarten teacher at Gervais Elementary School, unpacks some belongings in her new classroom. School starts for grades K-8 in Gervais on Monday.

The district will hold a grand opening for K-8 parents Thursday at 6:30 p.m. All parties will meet on the football field bleachers, and the middle and elementary school principals will give the tour to families, showing them where they can drop off their kids and where their kids will go once the doors open for class Monday.

“It’s about going over what’s different, not what’s routine,” explained Superintendent Rick Hensel. “The respective schools will have open house later in the month, when they meet their students’ teachers.”

Gervais High School students went back to class this week, but teachers in the younger grades are still moving into their new spaces, which are largely in two 12-classroom pre-fabricated buildings alongside the buildings on Douglas Avenue.

“It’s nice for parent support, with all their kids on one campus,” said kindergarten teacher Amy Hanes. “Parents are very pleased that their kids are in one location. Everything is going to be so nice. The kids are going to love the floor too.”

That’s because the tiled floor of the new K-2 wing at the newly-dubbed Gervais Elementary School is yellow and black, keeping the identity of the elementary school’s bee mascot.

But other teachers are concerned about losing the identity of Brooks and Eldriedge elementary schools, both of which are up for sale.

“It was awesome because we had our own natural science lab,” said first-grade teacher Linda Friesen, who is moving from Eldriedge, located by farmland on River Road. “We could take the students outside and teach them about the seasons and the trees and nature.”

But she’s still looking forward to the new school year, admitting there is no doubt there is academic value to having grades K-12 close together.

“We’re going to be able to work with the older kids to help tutor, there will be more continuity, we’ll have easier access to specialists,” she said. “There are some really good things out of this.”

Douglas Avenue Alternative School is moving next door to the district office on First Street, taking the opportunity to rename itself Samuel Brown Academy.

“We’re an alternative school, but we’re so much more than that,” said Principal Sylvia Valentine-Garcia. “We wanted the name to reflect more of what we’re doing. Plus, Sam Brown is a historical figure for the Gervais area, so someone on our site council suggested we honor him.”

The school will also include a day care facility, and is on schedule to open Monday, like grades K-8. The day care has already started in the old building, but will likely be shifted over by October, according Hensel.

As for the vacated buildings, the only one that will be occupied this fall is Eldriedge, which is housing St. John Bosco High School, a Catholic school that was formerly in North Howell School. They are leasing until they have the ability to purchase the building from Gervais School District, Hensel said.

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