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Positive Transition Sought For Kids As Lewisboro Elementary Closes

Kids dance to "Happy" by Pharrell Williams at the LES Big Bash. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Lewisboro Elementary School Principal Cristy Harris holds up a plate that the school's PTA gave to her as a gift. The tree depicted on the plate included leaves made from students' fingerprints. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Lewisboro Elementary School. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. -- On Friday evening, June 20, a large group of kids gathered behind Lewisboro Elementary School (LES) to perform a dance routine to the tune of the Pharrell Williams song “Happy."

The dance was major part of the upbeat tone for the party they were attending, which was called the LES Big Bash. The party, which had an atmosphere like a carnival, was held because pf the school's impending closure. The last day for students at LES is scheduled for Thursday, June 26.

The party's atmosphere was a significant contrast to the contentiousness noted in local news headlines during the fall and winter leading up to the school board's vote to shutter the school. At the party, kids were on swings, food trucks were stationed and a large inflatable slide was set up.

Kerri Wolfe, who is vice president of the school's PTA, said the intention of the event was to help kids go out on a “happy note” and have a party with friends, family and alumni.

The party is one of several events intended for transitioning LES students, who will be going across the school district to either Increase Miller Elementary School or Meadow Pond Elementary School in September.

“We don't want this to be sad,” said LES Principal Cristy Harris.

Asked about how the transition has been going for students, Harris explained that they have been “minimally affected.” She also mentioned visits that students took to their new schools.

The early June visits, which were by grade, were discussed in detail at Thursday's Katonah-Lewisboro Board of Education meeting, where transition updates were presented. Visitation examples included fourth-grade students working on puzzle pieces a September welcome banner; a third-grade travel theme that included passports and student ambassadors; a second-grade Flat Stanley scavenger hunt; first-grade students talking to each other about themselves and creation of a digital alphabet book for kindergarten students.

Other transition efforts discussed at the meeting include packing, which is scheduled to conclude by July 1, and planned creation of small-group instruction spaces to handle building capacity change caused by redistricting. The transition update report can be downloaded from the district's website.

Even though the school is closing, there will be staff remaining in the district. Harris will become principal of nearby Katonah Elementary School, a post she previously held. There are LES teachers, meanwhile, who have been reassigned to each of the other elementary schools, according to the board presentation.

A report about the school's history, which goes back more than seven decades, has been posted on the Town of Lewisboro's website and is available here .

The future of the LES building will be a topic for the next school year. At the board meeting, Interim Schools Superintendent Michael Jumper disclosed that there would be a committee to consider uses for it.

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