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West Elementary ready for school year

Laurie Everett • Updated Aug 6, 2013 at 2:47 PM

With a semi two-day delay due to construction at West Elementary School, all students went to school Monday. 

Last year, the school began a state-of-the-art addition with 14 new classrooms, computer lab, science lab, a new gym, cafeteria, art and music rooms. 

The construction was scheduled to be complete Thursday, but things got behind, and the school had "abbreviated days" Thursday and Friday from 7:15-9:15 a.m., for first- through fifth-graders. Kindergarteners had the days off. 

The "real" first day of school Monday went off without a hitch, according to principal Becky Siever. The "phase in" for kindergartners is through Thursday with a full day for the youngest students Friday. 

"The parents are wonderfully understanding," said Siever.

She sent an all-call message to parents Sunday night, telling them to leave early and follow a new traffic plan where students are dropped off at the back of the school. Buses now drop off in the front. She said she also made parents aware of some final touches to be complete.

"Today, a large majority of the parents parked and walked their kids in," said Siever on Monday. "That was OK."

The new cafeteria was in full swing Monday, with dozens of students in the new eating area. The gym needed a little work for Thursday and Friday, but was utilized Monday, said Siever. 

To experience the new addition are 585 students and 35 teachers this year. Gone are the four portable classrooms and team teaching.

There's still paving to be completed, as well as curbs and a lot of landscaping. The room for daycare for teachers' children is yet to be complete, but Siever said another room will be used. 

Teachers spent this past weekend moving into their classrooms and helped each other when needed, said Siever. 

"If it wasn't for the support of parents and teachers and the positive school culture, we could not have done this," said Siever. "We all have a shared excitement about this new addition. Parents told me they watched it all summer. These teachers are troopers and pitched in to help each other."

One first-grader told his mom the school "looks like a high school."

Parent Renee Elmore's child, Hunter Larkin, is in the fifth-grade.

"The school looks great," she said. "I'm excited."

She no longer has to drop him off at the Mt. Juliet Elementary School Kid's Club, because West Elementary School now has its own. 

Julie Smith has had children at West Elementary the last 18 years. Her son, Devin Smith, is in the fifth-grade, and she said the traffic pattern "was pretty smooth," Monday. 

"His classroom is beautiful," she said. "This is amazing. It's all so pretty."

Andrew St. Germain started fourth-grade this year. His mother, Leah, said he told her it was "awesome" in the new wing of the school.  Andrew spent second-grade in a portable at the school.

"This is a long time coming," said St. Germain. "It's well deserved." 

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