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Elderton High School ready to welcome students

ELDERTON — Elderton Junior Senior High School students and teachers will be walking through the doors of the school Monday morning to classes for the first time in more than a year.

The 55-year-old school building was closed in June 2009 by the Armstrong School District Board of Directors. Elderton students were sent to Ford City and West Shamokin high schools for the 2009-10 school year. In December, directors voted to reopen the school.

With school about to be back in session for the 285 students in grades 7-12, everyone has been busy getting it ready.

Custodians put down the final coat of wax this week.

"Could the floor be any shinier?" asked interim principal Rox Serrao.

First day announcements have been written and are ready to be read.

"Everybody is anxious, including me," he said.

And Serrao's "I put the principal in a good mood" mood pencils are waiting to be handed out to deserving students.

"Doing things like that makes you approachable to the kids," said Serrao. " Kids know when you care about them."

"My job as the principal is to make these kids feel welcome and continue to do that throughout the school year," he said. "Make them want to come to school."

Serrao said on Tuesday there isn't a lot of work to do to prepare the school since it was never completely closed. Students in the adjoining elementary school used its computer lab, gym and cafeteria and the public used some of the facilities during the past year.

The heating plant was maintained, the grass was kept mowed and the rooms were used.

"So far as it being shut down, it really wasn't," Serrao said.

"Everything is ready except for the finishing up," he said. "The last things to do are paint the curbs, get the mulch down for the landscaping and the grass mowed." The teachers will come Thursday and Friday. They're anxious to get to their rooms. They'll find out what materials to tell maintenance they need. The new teachers are unaware of a few things around the school."

Head custodian Floyd Burkett and his staff have done some painting, waxed floors, replaced lights in the halls, shined windows, cleaned desks, filled the janitor closest with supplies and moved the stacks of textbooks and classroom supplies into place.

"Whatever needed touched up," said Burkett. "It wasn't too bad. Nothing major had to be done."

Custodian Dave Boarts said everything will be up and running by Monday.

"It's a general maintenance thing that every school building gets done," said Boarts. "You just go through and you do it. Things are broken you fix them. Things need painting you paint them."

Paige Cashdollar, a freshman at Indiana University of Pennsylvania studying studio art, spent her senior year at West Shamokin High School.

Cashdollar has been painting murals on the wall of the cafeteria to greet returning students. She said it's meant to illustrate the academic, sports and extracurricular spirit of the Elderton school.

Brittany Byrd, who was helping Cashdollar paint, is happy to be back at Elderton High School for her senior year.

"I appreciate things I never noticed before," said Byrd. "I like seeing everything coming together here."

To Serrao, it seems like any new school year starting.

"The environment I'm seeing here and what's been happening here, I've forgotten that this is a reopening," said Serrao. "Our teachers are ready, the staff is excellent, the citizens of the community have some plans to kick off the school year for the kids and the students and their parents are excited and anxious. We're all excited for school to open. It's a special event for these kids. It's an excellent climate."

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