By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — CLINTONVILLE — Today, Kyra Mitchell not only enters a new grade but also a new school.
She, like many students displaced by the June closure of AuSable Fork’s Holy Name School, now attends AuSable Valley Central.
“We’re all very, very sad that the (Holy Name) School is closing,” said Kyra’s mom, Andrea Mitchell, who was the secretary at the Catholic institution.
In March, Holy Name announced it would close in June due to the kind of financial difficulties that have beset a number of other schools in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, including falling enrollment, and have also shut down.
Holy Name had been educating children for a full century.
“Both my kids really loved that school; they felt like home there,” Andrea said.
Still, she noted, Kyra, who completed kindergarten at Holy Name in June, is excited to kick off her first-grade year at AuSable Forks Elementary.
And Andrea’s son, Andrew, who switched from the Catholic to the public school last year upon entering third grade, did well with the transition.
“It’s a wonderful little school, too,” she said of AuSable Forks Elementary. “I don’t have any worries about them being there.”
NO NEW STAFF
Of the 56 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade who attended the parochial school last year, 38 are enrolled at AVCS for the 2013-14 academic year.
“We did not have to add any additional teaching staff to accommodate the students because they were spread out over a number of grade levels,” AVCS Superintendent Paul Savage told the Press-Republican in an email.
Twenty-four of the former Holy Name students attend AuSable Forks Elementary, he noted, eight go to Keeseville Elementary, and six students who graduated from Holy Name in June have entered seventh grade at AuSable Valley Middle School.
“Holy Name has had a very strong tradition and working relationship with AVCS, and we have tried to make this as seamless as possible for the students and parents,” Savage said.
“We look forward to having them on board and welcome the Holy Name students to AVCS.”
‘NEVER HURTS TO ASK’
Tami Bushey’s twin sons, Conor and Seth, switched from Holy Name to AuSable Forks Elementary in 2012-13, and she spoke highly of the public school.
“The teachers are very supportive,” she said. “They are wonderful to work with.”
And though changing schools was new experience for the twins, it was “new in a good way,” Seth said.
AVCS faculty members are very approachable, Tami noted, and were able to ease her fears and anxieties about the boys’ move to a public school.
Tami urged parents with children making the transition this year not to be afraid to discuss their concerns with their children’s teachers.
“Keep the lines of communication open,” she said. “If there’s a question, it never hurts to ask.”
Both Conor and Seth, who are now entering fifth grade, had no problem adapting to their new academic environment and making friends, Tami added.
“The other students were very welcoming and warm,” she said.
In fact, a lot of Holy Name and AVCS students already know each other, Andrea noted, as many of them participate in the same playground program each summer.
Through the six-week program, open to elementary-school youth in the towns of Jay and Black Brook, she said, the children have played sports, made arts and crafts and gone on outings together.
Though attending AuSable Valley Central will undoubtedly be a different experience for Holy Name students, who are accustomed to a much smaller school, Andrea noted, “I think all of them will do well.”
“There are more kids to talk to, more friends,” Conor added.
Email Ashleigh Livingston:firstname.lastname@example.org