Natchaug School welcomes back students/parents with open house

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Willimantic - posted Tue., Jan. 28, 2014
Nyzaiah (left) and Jesus play a game at the after-school program at the Natchaug School during the open house on Jan. 27. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Nyzaiah (left) and Jesus play a game at the after-school program at the Natchaug School during the open house on Jan. 27. Photos by Melanie Savage.

Natchaug School Principal Melissa Mishriky was happy to see the end of a busy, successful day approach when the school’s open house wrapped up on Jan. 27. “It’s been a long day,” said Mishriky. Mishriky has been overseeing the Natchaug population at its temporary location at Windham Middle School, as well as helping to facilitate the recent transition back into the repaired and refurbished elementary school building. “So it was double the work,” said Mishriky, “but now we’re all set.”

More than a year and a half ago, concerns regarding the deteriorating roof at Natchaug forced the relocation of the K-5 population. Kindergartners were reinstalled at the Kramer Building, with the rest of the students ending up at the middle school. Securing approvals for repair of the Natchaug roof was a lengthy and contentious process. And while they waited, elementary students were forced to endure cramped conditions.

Work to install the new, $1.36 million pitched roof on the 1913 building began in July of 2013, and was completed just recently. Rehab to the interior of the building began in September, and included sanding and refinishing all hardwood floors in the high-ceilinged classrooms, repainting interior walls, and adding the new, bright trim colors. And during a marathon weekend between Jan. 17 and Jan. 20, administrators, teachers, maintenance techs, custodians and other personnel from across the district pulled together to move furnishings and other equipment back in. The children returned after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, on Jan. 21.

Family liaison officer Maria Nazario, who was helping to man a scavenger hunt at the open house, said that the whole transition went surprisingly well. “We expected it might be rough, but it wasn’t too bad,” said Nazario. After having an opportunity to tour the school during the Monday holiday, students were right back to class the next day, she said. And judging by their comments, the students couldn’t be happier to be back at their home building.

“I’m happy there’s no noise,” said third-grader Isaiah, explaining that the middle school students were noisy in the hallways during transitions.

“It’s much quieter here,” agreed third-grader Nyzaiah. “And I get to go to the lunchroom now, and we don’t have to eat in the classroom.” The boys were happy to have their own library back, and the use of a bigger gym. “And we get to walk down to the nurse by ourselves,” added Nyzaiah.

Fourth-grader Alicia looked around the newly-painted, much brighter Natchaug School cafeteria, and agreed that she was happy to be back.  At the middle school, “we didn’t have our own cafeteria,” she said.


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