Students move into new May Street School wing

The grocery sack convoy trekked across the school yard Oct. 29.

Fifth-graders bore books and supplies in paper bags to begin the move to their new classroom at May Street School.

"If you have any junk, now would be a good time to recycle," teacher Kelvin Calkins told the class as they got ready. The desks, the books and study materials, classroom supplies, maps and other items would be moved by Calkins and other staff that afternoon.

With construction finally done on the school's new wing, it was the students' final day in the 30-year-old portable, the only such structure used as a fulltime classroom in Hood River County Schools.

Construction delays kept students out of the new wing more than a month longer than expected; over the summer school officials had expressed hope of moving in around Labor Day.

From Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 the other fourth and fifth-grade classes, housed in the main building, will move into the new wing. Second and third-graders will shift into the upper-grade rooms next week, according to principal Dan Patton.

But Calkins' classroom, long the satellite, moved first.

"It feels better," Ariel Larson said. "It's a little disappointing because it's smaller (than the portable) but we're not going to be out here all by ourselves."

Calkins agreed.

"It was nice to be out of the traffic a little, but it's also nice to be closer to everything else," he said.

Calkins has taught in the portable for six years including when it sat on the very ground where the new four-room wing was built starting in June.

At that time, the portable was moved to the school's tennis courts as an interim measure during construction. This fall, that meant one huge difference for students: no plumbing.

"We get a drinking fountain," said Jesse Schull when he was asked what he liked about moving to a new classroom.

"The new room is smaller but it gets to be heated, instead of cold out here," he said.

The students had heard the room was smaller, but they had not actually seen it until after they'd bagged up their stuff and carried it to the new wing. Then they got their first look. It was an exciting moment.

They gazed at the ceilings, touched the walls, admired the carpets.

McKenzie Lynch stood in the middle of the room and smiled.

"It just looks huge -- and it's clean," she said. "I think it's going to be a good place to learn."

After their short tour of their new classroom, the students returned to the portable for the day's final hour -- and one last math test in the old building.

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