Back to school, with excitement Edgemere: The TV studio isn't finished, but the $8 million elementary will open Monday, thanks to extra work by staff during the holiday.

January 03, 1998|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

The day after New Year's is typically one of the quietest at most schools, with teachers and students savoring their last few moments of winter vacation before returning to class.

But at Edgemere Elementary School yesterday, it looked as though winter vacation had ended long ago.

Teachers rushed to put up bulletin boards and organized shelves of textbooks. Contractors installed bookcases and set up computers.

Custodians polished the floors and carried away empty furniture boxes.

And amid all the activity, Principal Linda Stanton promised that everything needed for instruction would be ready Monday morning -- when Edgemere Elementary's building opens to its 391 students for the first time.

"It seems like almost everyone has been in the building trying to get ready for Monday. This has to be the busiest school in Baltimore County today," Stanton said as she sorted through her freshly unpacked books, papers and collection of ceramic dalmatians.

The old Edgemere Elementary building -- which dated to the 1920s -- was torn down in 1995.

Since then, students and staff have been split between two nearby middle schools, with pre-kindergarten through first grade assigned to Holabird Middle and second- through fifth-graders at Dundalk Middle.

The administrators, secretaries and media specialist shuttled back and forth, but no one felt comfortable.

"We're finally back home," said secretary Brenda Wilson, who lives two blocks from the school and whose children attended Edgemere. Wilson and her father also went to Edgemere.

"I'm so glad to be back," Wilson said. "The children are going to be so excited to have their school back and see everything new."

To give teachers and other staff members extra time to move from the middle schools into the $8 million replacement building, Edgemere students began their winter break two days early last month.

But even with those two extra moving days, few teachers were able to get ready for their students without working over the holiday vacation.

"It took a lot of extra time," said fifth-grade teacher Kelly Karwacki, who has three daughters at Edgemere.

Over the past couple of weeks, Karwacki has filled her classroom walls and bulletin boards with such items as test-taking reminders for the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program.

BTC Yesterday afternoon, wearing a blue Edgemere Elementary BlueJays sweat shirt, she had only to clean the papers off her desk.

"Look around at all of the classrooms and see how everybody is ready," Karwacki said.

"It's a testament to how dedicated everyone here is."

In the first-grade classroom of Robin Busick, it wasn't only the bulletin boards that were finished.

The lessons for Monday had been written on the chalkboard, telling children when they'll be reading and what they'll be studying in math.

"I was so excited to get everything prepared for the children," said Busick, a second-year teacher getting her own classroom for the first time.

At Holabird Middle, Busick had to share a room with another first-grade class.

Even the custodial staff has been putting in extra time to get the school ready.

"We've had some people on overtime, but we're putting in lots of unpaid time on the weekend, too," said Mary Brown, custodial cluster chief for the Sparrows Point area. "If this school was dirty on the first day, they would have our head, so we don't mind the extra work."

Brown said she has worked almost every day of the winter break. She even purchased her Christmas gifts early because she knew the work on the new building would keep her from any last-minute shopping.

To be sure, much of the school still was under construction yesterday afternoon.

The library didn't have bookcases -- much less library books. The television studio didn't have any equipment -- though that wasn't such a big deal because television sets hadn't yet been installed in any classrooms. And the outside of the building was still missing the name of the school.

Contractors likely will be around the school at least through March, Stanton said, finishing areas that aren't critical to instruction, such as the playground and the after-school activities area for the recreation and parks department.

But few teachers seemed to mind yesterday. Their classrooms were ready to go -- and they were finally in a school free of leaky roofs and full of technology.

"I've been teaching here 30 years, and in my first year they were talking about the need to replace [the] building," said first-grade teacher Charlene Tuzzolo.

"In my old classroom, the coatroom was actually sinking into the ground. This new school is wonderful."

Pub Date: 1/03/98

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