With a new middle/high school project on the way, Winthrop students will begin their 2014-15 school year at some new school sites.
The biggest change will find the high school students relocating to the former Winthrop Middle School where eighth grade students will also be attending. A new ‘Winthrop High School’ sign already adorns the front of the building facing Pauline Street. Students in grades four through seven will attend the Cummings School while kindergarten through third graders will attend the Gorman/Fort Banks School.
Principal Eileen Belastock said that all 724 students, grades 8 through 12, will be involved in high school clubs, academics, and athletics.
“The eighth graders will have separate classes,” said Belastock, who is being assisted in the administration by assistant principal Matt Crombie.
The high school students took part in orientation sessions leading up to the opening of the school year on Wednesday, Sept. 3.
“The school looks very different than when I first walked in to it in July,” said Belastock. “The custodial staff has done an amazing job getting this building ready. It looks like a high school and the more the kids are in the building, the more it’s going to be a high school so it’s exciting. It’s going to be a good year.”
Superintendent of Schools John Macero said that each student at the high school will have his/her own individual iPad [a hand-held computer] as part of a new initiative. Seniors will also be allowed to leave the building during their free academic period as part of an open-campus format approved by the School Committee. The high school day will begin at 8:35 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.
“The purpose of that is to get them to understand what it will be like when they go on to college,” said Macero.
The kindergarten and first graders will start their school day at 7:45 a.m. The second and third graders will begin at 8:05 a.m. while the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh graders will begin at 8:25 a.m.
The superintendent noted some of the cosmetic changes to the high school during a tour of the building Monday. He said the school’s walls and other interior structures were newly painted in Winthrop’s navy blue and gold school colors.
Macero also said a science classroom/laboratory space is being renovated to adhere to all safety requirements.
“We also re-carpeted and re-painted the computer technology classrooms and the television studio,” said Macero. “We have new air conditioners for these classrooms as well.”
The guidance department will be located in offices just off of the school cafeteria.
Winthrop students will also welcome a newly renovated gymnasium and updated boys and girls’ locker rooms.
“The new gym is amazing,” said Niki Tsiotos, a star point guard on the WHS girls basketball team. “It’s nicer than the old gym. It’s going to be really fun playing our homes games here and I’m excited. We’ll be able to pack this place.”
Winthrop director of athletics Peter Gobiel said the gym has a new floor and six new glass backboards. “I think the kids are going to look forward to playing on this court.”
The high school auditorium will have new curtains. The lighting and sound systems have been moved from the former high school to the current auditorium.
Macero said a Lifeskills Center will be in operation at the school under the direction of teachers Pauline Boyajian and Melissa Benevenuto. High school students will also have use of a new room for music educatiom.
The incoming high school students are excited about their “new” school and look forward to a great year.
“I’m confident about how things are coming along,” said Annie Mahoney, president of the Class of 2015. “I know that everyone has some doubts, but it will all work out well in the end. I think everything will be good.”