Washington County's school year ends

many will be switching schools next year

June 05, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Wearing a cowboy hat and a wide smile, Daulton Beckley said goodbye Wednesday to Fountain Rock Elementary School.

In August, the third-grader will be a student at Rockland Woods Elementary School, south of Hagerstown. He was one of about 130 students - roughly one-third of the school - redistricted from Fountain Rock.

"We're going to get new stuff," Daulton, 9, said of what he'll see when he attends the new school. "It will be different. I think I'll meet lots of new friends."

Wednesday was the last day of school for most Washington County Public Schools students. For many, when they return in August, school will be a much different place.


At least 17 schools were affected by redistricting efforts that sent about 500 students to Rockland Woods and shifted many students to a larger Maugansville Elementary School that opens in August. More than 200 students who are now enrolled at Paramount Elementary School will go to Maugansville.

A larger replacement school for Pangborn Elementary also will open in August.

Tim Almany said he and his son Griffin, 6, have been talking about what first grade will be like at Rockland Woods.

Griffin, whose last day of kindergarten at Fountain Rock was Wednesday, said he is most excited about the school's new library, which he said will have laptop computers.

"It's like four of our basements," Griffin said of the size of the media center.

Almany said his family drove to the site of the new school Saturday to look at the outside and described the 85,610-square-foot school as a "state-of-the-art facility."

Same friends, new friends

Griffin said a few of his friends from Fountain Rock also are going to Rockland Woods in August.

Six-year-old Austin Curtis said enrolling in a new school will be easier now that he knows a few of his friends are going, too. The Fountain Rock kindergartner said he was excited to start first grade at Rockland Woods.

"It will be big," he said.

Austin said he is expecting another change in first grade - harder math problems.

While Sarah Eckstine, 10, will remain at Fountain Rock next year, she said two of her best friends will be at Rockland Woods.

The fourth-grader said she'll miss her friends, but she is looking forward to fifth grade, when she says her class will spend a week at Fairview outdoor school.

Paramount Elementary student Chelsea McIntosh, who will be a first-grader at Maugansville Elementary, said she's excited about going to the new, bigger school.

When asked what she thinks the new school will be like, Chelsea, 6, said it will be "fun."

She'll miss the friends she's leaving behind, though, and said she liked playing on the playground at Paramount.

Maddison Lynn, 7, said Paramount will be much different without two of her best friends next year. They will be at Maugansville, and Maddison said she'll miss playing with them at recess.

"I'm sad," she said. "Because, most of the time, I went out and played with them on the playground."

Teachers on the move

Kaden Snyder, a Fountain Rock kindergartner, will change schools in August, but not because of redistricting. His family moved, and Kaden, 5, will enroll at Williamsport Elementary.

Kaden said he's looking forward to the "play centers" in first grade, and even additional testing.

"I like tests," he said.

Kaden's mother, Kelli Snyder, a first-grade teacher at Fountain Rock, said taking her son to his last day of kindergarten was even more emotional than his first.

"I'm a little more sad," she said.

Snyder will remain at Fountain Rock, but she said many of the school's teachers are leaving along with the students. The school's principal, Archie Van Norden, will be the principal of Maugansville Elementary when it opens in August, replacing Deborah Favinger.

Suzy Abeles will teach physical education at Rockland Woods starting in August, after working with Fountain Rock students for 21 years. Abeles said she's been at Fountain Rock long enough that she's started to teach children of former students.

"It will be a nice change," Abeles said.

At least six Fountain Rock teachers will be teaching at the new school. Abeles said she's glad that more than 100 Fountain Rock students will be changing schools with her.

"There will be some familiar faces, and some new faces," she said.

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