HAMPSTEAD — With the doors of Spring Garden Elementary School scheduled to open for learning for the first time on Sept. 3, young students here are portable-free at last.
The opening of the $5.4 million elementary school, south of Hampstead off Route 30, marks the first time in LarryJ. Bair's tenure as principal at the school that all classes will beheld in the school building.
"After 17 years, all the programs are under one roof," Bair said."This will be the first year we have not used portables."
Hampstead Elementary School's enrollment last year reached 936 students, forcing nine classes at the Shiloh Road building to meet in portables. Kindergarten was held at the North Hampstead Elementary annex on Main Street.
"It worked super," said Bair, a 23-year veteran educator. "It gave the youngsters a feeling of belonging in their own unique setting."
Still, they had contact with the older students, Bair said.
"We involved them in the programs and transported them back and forth," he said.
But Hampstead Elementary was overcrowded, so morethan 640 children, 22 classroom and nine resource teachers, and two secretaries will be moving to the new school, Bair said. In addition,a few students from Manchester Elementary School will go to Spring Garden, he said.
Hampstead Elementary School will remain open, under the leadership of Mark Vigliotti, previously the school's assistantprincipal, Bair said. No classes will be held at North Hampstead Elementary -- the Main Street annex, he said.
Because the Spring Garden site was modeled after Hampstead Elementary, Bair believes the transition to the sleek, salmon-and-cream-colored brick building, will be smooth.
This is not the first move for Bair or Hampstead Elementary.
A native of Littlestown, Pa., Bair taught school for four years in his home state before serving one year as assistant principal at Manchester Elementary.
After a four-year stint as principal at Robert Moton Elementary School in Westminster, he came to Hampstead Elementary. In the middle of the 1985-1986 school year, Bair saw the school through its relocation from the old Hampstead Elementary on MainStreet to the Shiloh Road building.
"It was a unique challenge toput the existing program (at the old building on Main Street) in a new setting," he said.
With experience on his side, this move will be even easier, he said.
"There will be no major adjustments," Bair said.
Still, before Bair took a well-earned vacation in Duck, N.C., with his wife, Bonnie; sons, Richard, 27, Darryl, 24; and daughter, Amy, 20, the 49-year old Manchester resident wanted to be certain plans were set for the first day of classes.
Moving to a new building brings Bair even closer to the school, he said.
"The neat thing is, when you make a change, it causes you to re-evaluate what you're doing," he said. "A challenge motivates you to get more involved."
With the excitement of a move to a new building, Bair wants to be sure nothing interferes with his top priority -- the children's education.
"They have to be motivated and interested in school if they are going to succeed," Bair said. "Our purpose is to help them develop their potentials.
"School at Hampstead has always been child-centered," he said. "All activities are planned to help the children. Wehave the charge to make sure they are motivated to learn."
To help the children attending Spring Garden make the adjustment and feel comfortable in their new surroundings, there will be an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday for the students and their parents.
A Sunday afternoon open house is being planned this fall so the public can explore the school, complete with color-coordinated suites for each grade, a covered walkway that stretches from the parking lot to the main entrance, and a spacious cafeteria, gym and auditorium.
New furniture and equipment has been purchased, assembled, and placed, Bair said. Teachers are decorating bulletin boards and filling classrooms with all new materials.
In addition, the school is one of the firstin the county to have a media center with a computerized, automatic circulation system, Bair said. Shelves in the high-tech library are lined with books.
All that's missing now from this ultra-modern school, are the young students, who will fill the shiny, locker-lined hallways as they begin the new school year Sept. 3.