Schenectady County

Last day of charter school saddens students, staff

With tears and hugs, students exited the doors of the International Charter School of Schenectady fo
International Charter School student Alan Tarver, 10, of Schenectady, is teary eyed as he waits for the bus to take him home on the last day of school Thursday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
International Charter School student Alan Tarver, 10, of Schenectady, is teary eyed as he waits for the bus to take him home on the last day of school Thursday.

With tears and hugs, students exited the doors of the International Charter School of Schenectady for the last time on Thursday.

While nearly all students look forward to summer vacation, the last day of school was bittersweet for these students because it was the last day ever for this school.

“I feel like crying,” said 8-year-old third-grader Kayuska Soliveras.

She said she will miss the happiness, friendships and math.

DailyGazette.com video

To view a video report of this story, click here.

In March, the SUNY Board of Trustees voted not to renew the school’s charter, citing poor academic performance. Some 50 or so students already transferred back to the Schenectady City School District schools, leaving the school with an enrollment of about 532.

On the last day, Danielle Rossner’s third-grade class held an awards ceremony and she read a “top ten” list of some of the most memorable moments during the school year, including going to Great Escape on

Wednesday, working on a volcano project, holding dance parties, eating ice cream sundaes and writing to pen pals in Africa.

“My favorite thing this whole year is watching all of you grow and learn. You guys have changed so much this year,” she said.

Rossner encouraged the students to be true to themselves.

After reading the letter, all the students joined in a group hug.

“[I’m] not really happy because I had some good times here,” said 9-year-old third-grader Nyzir Humphrey.

Another third-grader, Elise Jones, 9, said she was mad. “I don’t want to leave ICSS,” she said. “People here, they respect you.” Some students could be seen shedding tears. Rossner said many of the children have been at the school since kindergarten and it is a close group.

“It’s just very emotional,” said Rossner, who does not have a job lined up for the fall yet.

Kindergarten teacher Nicole Izzo took her students on a goodbye tour of the building, stopping by the offices of the curriculum coaches, other classrooms and the gymnasium.

“It’s hard to say goodbye to the kids because you get so close to them,” she said.

Kindergartner Rhaymi Porter, 5, said she enjoyed her teacher and playing games.

As the children were saying goodbye to the gym, Acting Director Shirley Reed’s voice came over the loudspeaker.

“It was a pleasure to be acting director. I wish you all well. Always remember: Stay on green,” she said, referring to the color-coded discipline system the school uses with “green” meaning excellent behavior.

Speaking to reporters in her office, Reed said the staff was personally invested in the students’ future. They started the year out with a goal of improving test scores and succeeded on the recent New York state tests. However, the school is still closing.

“They’ve been working for six years to close this school and they’ve done it. It has nothing to do with academics,” she said, without naming who the “they” is.

Reed is the fourth director the school has seen. The original director was Lillian Turner, followed by Christi Seiple-Cole and then Sam Penceal. Reed said some staff members are moving out of state to find different jobs. The school opened in fall 2002 and moved to its current home at the former Draper School in Rotterdam in the fall of 2005. The school’s board of trustees will continue to exist as it works to find a buyer for the former Draper School building. It has listed the building for sale at $7.5 million.

The trustees are trying to pay down nearly $7 million in outstanding debt.

Even the support staff was emotional. Maria Rivera, student management coordinator for the middle school students and disciplinarian, said many students came up to her in the hall to say goodbye.

“They said they’re going to miss me even though I yell at them,” she said.

Sixth-grader Jasmine Moreno, 12, said she is going to miss her friends and teachers. The teachers had “crazy” personalities.

“Everybody was so funny,” she said.

Parents picking up students in the school also shared in the emotion. Parent Amanda Myers, who has two children and five nieces in the school, said she felt “lousy.” She felt the school offered more academic opportunities and a very supportive environment. “Both of my kids are mixed [race]. They got to blend in a lot,” she said.

Parent Cathleen Knauf, who has three children in the school, found it difficult to speak in between tears. She said she appreciated all the efforts of the staff and the teachers, even with the difficult year.

“It’s extremely sad. We chose to send them right from the beginning here. It gave us a different choice,” she said.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply