'There's TVs in the library!': New Scarborough school wows 'em on opening day

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SCARBOROUGH — As third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students entered the new Wentworth Intermediate School for their first day of classes Tuesday, few could contain their awe. 

“There’s TVs in the library!” several students exclaimed, eyes wide, necks craned, and mouths agape as they walked through the main entrance.

After a brief flag-raising ceremony Tuesday morning, the new school was officially open, and more than 700 students got their first look at the 170,000-square-foot building that was completed this summer.

Equally ecstatic about the first day was Wentworth’s new interim principal, Kelli Crosby, who stepped up from her assistant principal position when Anne-Mayre Dexter announced her retirement last June

“This has been a long time coming,” Crosby told students hopping off buses Tuesday morning. “We’re very excited to welcome you to your new school.”

Construction of the $39 million building began following a successful 2011 bond referendum. The aging, original Wentworth school was razed and is on its way to becoming a parking lot.

In addition to having long been too small for Wentworth’s 700-student size, the 53-year-old Wentworth building had asbestos problems that prohibited opening some windows, and was in part responsible for the new school’s development.

Crosby is confident the new building and technological features are prepared for students. But, as with any major change, she expects some bumps in the road.

“Flexibility is the word of the year here,” she said. 

Jo-Ellen Clive, the school’s tech integrator, is helping to navigate those bumps. She is a 20-year veteran of Wentworth, whose full-time position was created in this year’s school budget.

Clive’s role is to help students and teachers harness the technologies now available to them, including interactive white boards, and one-to-one student laptop computers for in-school use. Crosby said the laptops were paid for in the school’s technology budget this year. 

“We’re getting used to a new way of teaching and thinking that we didn’t have access to in the past,” she said. “Now we have access to more than I think we can imagine.”

In addition to a new school building, faculty and students begin a new organizational structure this year, similar to one at Scarborough Middle School: students will no longer be grouped by wings, but by four “learning communities.”

Each community is made up of nine teachers, with both blended classes (third-, fourth- and fifth-graders with the same teacher for three years) and grade-looping classes (third- and fourth-graders with the same teacher for two years, and fifth-graders separated).

This year’s school budget also made a part-time literacy coach position full-time, to better assist third- through fifth-grade students with new reading and writing programs. 

Parents of Wentworth students will be invited to open houses in late September to explore the new school. Crosby said the school will host a separate open house and official ribbon-cutting ceremony specifically for community members after the new parking lot is finished sometime in early October. 

“I’m just so proud that our community has made this investment in our students and I know they’re eager to get in and see it,” she said. “We’re eager to share it with them, because I know the pride they’re going to feel.”

Shelby Carignan can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or scarignan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @shelbycarignan.

Sidebar Elements

More than 700 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students began classes at the new Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough on Tuesday, Sept. 2. 

Principal Kelli Crosbi guides students to their teachers Tuesday, Sept. 2, on the first day of classes at the new Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough.

Students tour the new Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough on Tuesday morning.

Inside the new 170,000-square-foot Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough, where parent open houses are planned in late September and a community open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony will follow in early October.