Schenectady County

Schenectady unveils three new elementary schools

Not only was it the first day of school in Schenectady today, but it was also the first day for thre

Four-year-old Natasha Nivens was psyched to start kindergarten at Franklin D. Roosevelt School.

“She’s very excited. She’s ready to get to class and start doing something,” said her mother, Victoria.

Natasha said she liked playing over the summer but was ready to learn.

Natasha was one of 10,000 district students who headed back to the classroom this morning. Not only was it the first day of school, but it was also the first day for three new elementary schools — FDR on Lansing Street, Katharine Burr Blodgett on Bradt Street and William C. Keane on Albany Street. All three are former Catholic schools.

The extra facilities were needed to accommodate the roughly 500 students returning from the closed International Charter School of Schenectady.

FDR Principal Pedro Roman welcomed the roughly 150 students as they entered the cafeteria.

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you,” he said to Natasha.

Roman spent the last year as a principal for Capital Region BOCES and the previous six as dean of students at Oneida Middle School. He said the school is going to have curriculum nights, a reading contest and a mascot contest.

“Our theme is going to be welcoming families and providing a nurturing and safe place for students to grow,” he said.

Seven-year-old Nadia Couvertier, a former charter school student, was crying on the lap of her grandmother, Dianna.

“It’s a new school. I guess she doesn’t see very much of her friends from last year. She probably feels uncomfortable,” said her mother, Katiria.

Ryan Acevedo, 6, a first-grader said he had a busy summer.

“I played outside, and I played my video games,” he said.

First-year science teacher Jeanna Blair said she was excited to teach at the new school. She looked forward to exciting science projects including a unit on butterflies.

Over at Blodgett, Principal Nancy Fontaine knows a thing or two about butterflies.

“This morning, I felt the same butterflies that I felt 23 years ago, when I had my first classroom, so for me, this is like one big classroom,” she said. “This is like Disney — the greatest place on earth. It’s really good. Kids were excited, parents were excited. We didn’t sleep last night, and we probably won’t sleep for the next week or so.”

Fontaine said the school will be focusing a unit on the history of Blodgett, who was General Electric’s first female scientist.

The other new school is William C. Keane Elementary — named after a founder of St. Luke’s School. New lunch room supervisor William Gadson was eager to help the kids.

“I’m a little nervous, along with the kids, trying to figure out where things are at,” he said.

The school’s principal is John Sardos, former principal at Pleasant Valley.

Superintendent Eric Ely said the opening day went off without a lot of hiccups. Opening the new schools and changing the start times of all the schools to accommodate an extra 30 minutes of instruction involved rewriting all the bus routes.

“It’s been a good challenge, but there were a lot of good people working on it,” he said.

Some of the new schools are still awaiting new furniture, which is on back order from the company the district uses. The schools have been making do with existing equipment.

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