CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- The first weeks of a new school year are always hectic, but doubly so when construction interrupts use of the school kitchen and cafeteria.
Cambridge Central School administrators said at September's board meeting that classes had gotten off to a smooth start despite the ongoing construction and a new "activities period" for extracurriculars incorporated into the regular school day.
"In all, things are going quite well," said Raymond "Bud" Durrin, CCS buildings and grounds superintendent, reporting on the school's $8.03 million project.
With paving and playground complete, work will continue inside over the coming months remodeling the school's kitchen and cafeteria. Until the space is completed, a temporary kitchen has been setup in a trailer behind the school, with meals provided in the auditorium. Durrin said work to the circa-1952 kitchen was "not pretty" but a positive step.
Board members complimented cafeteria workers and administrators for the smooth opening. Board member Lillian Herrington said she was "very impressed with what's going on," noting ongoing work over some weekends.
"This was not an easy year to get off the ground. And it has gotten off the ground very smoothly," attested board member Paul Baker-Porazinski. "Administrators get an earful anytime when tiny things go wrong. ... It's important to remember the thousands of things that go right."
In terms of the new activities period, high school Principal Tammy Silvernell said there had been a "learning curve" but she expressed optimism with the arrangement once academics and clubs pick up. The extra 41-minute period was agreed to by faculty as a concession earlier this year, after funding was cut for after-school activities. Teachers are forgoing compensation to run the clubs and activities as part of the longer school day.
School Superintendent Vincent Canini reported the "first Friday" number of students at the start of school totaled 896; down from 912 last year because of a smaller incoming class compared to the graduating class of 2012.
In a written release, officials also touted technological additions to this year's curriculum including an iPad mobile lab for use in classrooms.
The mobile iPad cart enables access to digital books (available at the school library) and software applications that can be applied to curriculum. In kindergarten classrooms, the special education department and the elementary library, the iPads can be used to help students learn to read.
This year, parents have immediate access to their children's grades, attendance, report cards, and class schedule through an online information system called Parent Portal. After initially signing up, parents can find the portal through the school website.
In its release CCS also touted the addition of a Smart Response System which connects classroom Smartboards and allows teachers to test students with interactive pop quizzes. "The addition of these new technologies is a great addition to the school's 21st century learning environment," the release said, "helping our small rural school to provide cutting-edge education technology to our students which is usually only available to much larger districts, and continuing to make Cambridge a high performing school district."
Current technology at CCS includes 47 Smartboards within classrooms K-12. Over the past four years students have also gained access to:
* 3 mobile computer labs,
* 3 standard computer labs,
* portable labs in both libraries,
* a computer assisted drawing (CAD) lab,
* computer work stations in each classroom.
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