LITTLE COMPTON — There’ve been issues with mud, lockers and intercoms but students and staff at Wilbur & McMahon Schools say their temporary home is working better than some had feared.
It’s now been a few weeks since 275 Wilbur & McMahon students and all their teachers left the old school building, now under renovation, and took up temporary residence in two 70-foot modular classroom buildings installed in a field a few hundred feet away to the west.
It’s certain they will remain in the temporary structures for the rest of this school year and likely they’ll be there for most of most of next year, so it’s fair to ask how they like their new digs.
On the whole, reaction to school life in the modulars has been positive. We talked with Karen Goncalo, a third grade teacher and head of the local teachers’ union, and we asked Principal Joao Arruda to take a short tour of some of the classrooms and ask the students themselves what they thought.
A tour around the school earlier this month provided these reactions:
Grade 3 students:
Ursula : “I like my classroom. It feels the same way as it did at the
Jeffrey: “I like that we still use our SmartBoard. It’s fun. Our room is
great but our closet is a bit small.”
Sophia: “The Pod is bigger that I thought it would be. It’s all carpeted. It’s neat.”
Grade 4 students:
Allison: “I like that we still use the playground. I do like my new school a lot and the bathrooms are huge.”
Tanner: “I don’t like that we have to walk to the cafeteria and to the gymnasium. Other than that, it’s pretty cool.”
Grade 8 students:
Celia: “I like that we still attend a school in Little Compton. We have nice heat and air conditioning. I don’t like that we are not getting our exercise and we are a society that has obesity at a big rate.”
Lauren: “I love the classrooms. They are bigger, cleaner and homier.”
Ashley: “The Pods are very roomy. They smell clean. It has a lot of pros, but a con is that we don’t have any lockers. We have to put our stuff in the classroom.”
Haley: “Walking from one pod to another gives us a chance to come outside and have a change of scenery. I wish our desks had drawers to put our books inside them.”
Mr. Arruda said he ‘s found staff and students alike “extremely supportive” of the move, and that “everyone is working hard to pull it together.” The classrooms themselves, he said, are large — no “gigantic,” with lots of storage space), with a couple of exceptions — those for the first and sixth grades.
A couple of leaks in the ceiling have been repaired, shelving is being installed, and certain areas outside, he said, quickly became muddy and have since been covered up with mulch. Some other details have needed attending to, a door here, a lock there, and so forth.
Mr. Arruda said that as soon as the weather improves, the school will place three picnic tables outside. Walking and parking areas have been either covered with stones or blacktop, or will soon be. An “excellent” graveled area for pick-up and drop-off of the children has been created, he said.
“We’ve had to be flexible” and “we’ve had some problems,” Ms. Goncalo said, but the teachers and administration have been working to correct the issues. One problem, she noted, was the intercom system, which as of about a week ago had only been about 75 percent completed.
“Overall, we’re pretty happy,” she said. Some remaining issues with heat and wi-fi need to be addressed; both were spotty as of a week ago. All equipment, including whiteboards, is up and running, she said.