August 29, 2017 – Necks craned and eyes widened as students walked through the lofty new glass entranceway at Platt High School Monday. Not only was it the first day of school, but the first day without clamoring construction crews and blocked hallways after four years of renovations.
“A lot of them just stopped and looked around because this wasn’t here last year. Walls that were up when they left were taken down and the whole space is open now,” Platt Principal Robert Montemurro said. “… a lot of amazed looks on their faces.”
The newly renovated school was one highlight on Monday, said Superintendent of Schools Mark Benigni.
“The consistency of the leadership teams makes it smoother every year,” Benigni said, while visiting John Barry School. “The biggest issue was the traffic because we have a lot of parents coming on the first day. But the facilities are in good shape and the entire faculty and the students are glad to be back.”
Last year, construction on the $97.7 million Platt renovation project was still under way when students returned, forcing them to use a temporary entrance at the back of the building. The main entrance, administrative offices, auditorium and gym were under construction and students had to maneuver through detours.
Senior class president Carson Coon, 17, recalled the daily confusion of trying to get to class last year.
“It’s weird actually knowing exactly where you are going to go because you are used to having detours no matter where you went,” Coon said. “One day you’d walk down a hallway to get to your class and the next day you’d go and there’s orange cones and guys in vests working so you’d have to find another way.”
As the bell rang between first and second period, students poured into the wide, light-bathed hallways, cascading down the tiered stairs in one of the school’s main hallways.
Big, bright, and beautiful was how senior Gillian Galotti, 16, described the building.
“It’s not hectic anymore,” Galotti said. “I know where everything is already.”
Elsewhere in the district, younger children waved goodbye to parents who watched them board the bus, or walked them into their new classrooms. Kindergarten parents had the most difficult time.
“There were more parents crying than kids,” said John Barry Principal Dan Crispino.
Agampreet Dhot, 5, was nervously holding on to her father Aman Dhot as they walked to her kindergarten class at Israel Putnam School. Earlier in the morning, Agampreet was looking forward to going to school, her father said. But as she got closer to the commotion of parents, the buses and noisy students in front of the school, she clung tighter to dad.
“This is her big brother’s school,” Aman Dhot said.
Father and daughter were greeted by staff at the door and found their way to her classroom.
Yaliyah Piquon, 6, was also nervous about entering first grade at Israel Putnam, fearing she would be in a class with strangers.
“Last night, she broke down,” said her mom Yanie Brown.
But Yaliyah’s fears were forgotten, when she saw her best friend in her class.
“She was so happy,” Yanie Brown said.
Israel Putnam crossing guard Victor DelFavero said his shift runs from 7:50 to 9 a.m. The traffic along North Parker Street picks up about 8:40 a.m. and continues steadily to the end of the shift. The first few days are the most hectic because all the parents show up.
“They empty their cars and they walk,” said DelFavero. “This is my 16th year. I enjoy working with the kids.”
This article was published in The Record-Journal