All the things that have worried some parents about switching children from Oneida to Mont Pleasant Middle School were on display Friday as students got their first look at their new school.
But it was all exciting from the perspective of the seventh-graders considering their next school.
“I’ve noticed better things about it,” said Felicia Timson, 12. “Like better bathrooms and the giant auditorium.”
Indeed, all of the students seemed thrilled to see how big Mont Pleasant is — although some parents have worried that it’s too big.
“I think it’s really cool because the school is bigger,” said Zoe White, 13. “It gives you more room to actually walk in the hallways.”
Mont Pleasant students quickly picked up on the theme. Rosie Chatterton, 14, an eighth-grader, talked up the school eagerly.
“It’s a big school,” she said. “That’s good because there’s three gyms, a big one and two small ones. There’s a big cafeteria.”
Then she ran out of “big” things.
“Um … there’s a lot of classrooms … ” she offered.
Chelsia Chandratt, 12, who was paired with Chatterton, laughed. The school is obviously bigger than Oneida, she said.
“Oneida is small,” she explained, adding with an adolescent’s repulsion, “It’s a square. Like, really square-shaped.”
Students from both schools worked together Friday to transplant flowers from the entrance of Oneida to the entrance
of Mont Pleasant. They also planted new trees and bushes donated by ReTree Schenectady, Turner Construction and Cloverleaf Nurseries.
The day was picked in honor of Arbor Day, but students were chosen to work together to begin the transition to one middle school. Oneida will close at the end of the school year.
Students have until next week to submit paperwork for one of five schools, but Mont Pleasant will be the only middle school. The others will be K-8 buildings, which may have fewer electives than a traditional middle school.
Some parents said the school board was choosing to close the wrong school, arguing that Oneida posts better test scores. But interim Superintendent John Yagielski promised that Mont Pleasant would be vastly improved by the change, as programs are moved there from Oneida.
Students also will be able to avoid leaking ceilings and the host of other structural problems that plague Oneida.
But some parents said it will be a rough transition for students who only moved from their elementary school a year or two ago.
On Friday, students didn’t have any such worries.
“I already know some of the people here, from this,” White said happily, adding that she hopes to attend Mont Pleasant.
“I can’t wait to see these plants,” she said. “Like, we did this. The school looks really pretty and we can say we were the ones who did this.”