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Visitors give stamp of approval to new Connellsville elementary school

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Marilyn Forbes | For the Daily Courier
Trying out the new play area at the new West Crawford Elementary School in Connellsville are Makalya, 10, and Jacob Rock, 12. Both will be attending the new facility when school opens on Aug. 26.

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Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, 6:09 p.m.

The lowering of locker shelves, the adding of low-lying coat hooks and new rest rooms suited for smaller hands were just a few of the changes made at the former Connellsville Junior High West.

The former junior high, now known at West Crawford Elementary School, was remodeled to accommodate its younger students.

The school was closed as a junior high facility at the end of the 2011-2012 school year and will reopen for the first day of the new school year on Aug. 26 as the West Crawford Elementary School, welcoming the students who attended the now closed Zachariah Connell Elementary School in Connellsville.

“It looks wonderful,” West Crawford Elementary Principal Traci Kuhns said of the school. “Everyone who walks in just says, ‘Wow.'”

The school welcomed parents and students for an orientation on Wednesday and a community open house was held on Thursday.

There were some parents and students who couldn't stay away.

Jennise Rock and her children Makalya and Jacob visited the school both days.

The mother and children were at the orientation on Wednesday but dad Michael couldn't make it. So the whole family visited again on Thursday.

“They are excited and wanted their dad to see the school,” Jennise Rock said. “I like it myself. It's bigger and there is more room for them to move around.”

“We like it,” said Makalya, 10. She will be entering the second grade. “We get our own lockers.”

Jacob, 12, will be entering the sixth grade and is not only happy that he is getting the teacher that we wanted but he is excited about the move.

“I like that we are getting a science room and I like the new playground,” Jacob said. “We're going to be able to play kickball and I also like the gymnasium.”

Remodeling at the school also included the lowering of chalk boards and new rest rooms in the kindergarten and first-grade classroom areas.

The classes will soon all have wall projectors and some classrooms will also have document cameras.

“I think this all looks great,” Connellsville Area School Board Director Paul Harshman said as he toured the building. “We are all excited about this and I think that it is going to be a very good improvement to our district.”

One of the major issues that surrounded the move for the students was the concern voiced by several parents whose students used to walk to school and will now have to be bused.

“Actually, with many of the students, their walk to the bus stop will be shorter then their walk to school,” Kuhns said.

Teachers have been busy moving into their new classrooms and office and custodial staff are finishing up the last-minute changes getting ready for the opening day.

Kuhns said a newsletter has been sent out to all the parents with pertinent information for the upcoming school year. She stressed the importance of parents taking the time to review the materials.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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