Chatham's Largest Class Causes Adjustments at School
Enrollment at Lafayette Avenue School hovers just under 700 students.
When school starts in September, Lafayette Avenue School will welcome the largest class Chatham has ever seen.
As of Friday, the rising fourth grade class—the future class of 2021—has 369 students. The fifth grade class has 327 students enrolled, for a total current enrollment of 696. Principal Cheryl Caggiano said she expects a few more students to come in.
"I think we'll start the year, according to my calculations, with just over 700 kids," Caggiano said. "Last year we were at 636 for the whole year."
Fortunately, with extensions done in previous years, classroom space is not a worry for the administration.
"We have the space," Caggiano said. "We were lucky because in the last years we've had small group instruction in large classrooms, so now our teachers are doubling up. Our biggest challenge was lunchtime and our applied music schedules."
The cafeteria at LAS was at capacity during the 2011-12 school year. To accommodate the student body, this year the school will have three separate lunch periods for students.
"The lunches are going to be smaller, which will be great for our lunch aids," Caggiano said. "Fifth graders will have open seating, so they can sit wherever they want, and with the fourth grade I'm hoping to do that beginning in October."
Changes in the lunch schedule affected the applied music classes. Because the music staff is shared between LAS and Chatham High School, Caggiano worked with Chatham High Principal Darren Groh and Music Department Chair Barbara Klemp to arrange a schedule that worked for both schools.
"We moved applied music to the end of the day," Caggiano said. "If we stayed the same, the period would actually be shortened, and we didn't think that would be fair."
LAS has also changed their school hours for the 2012-13 school year. The first bell of the day will be at 8:40 a.m., and the late bell will be at 8:45 a.m. Classes will end at 3:15 p.m.
The changes may revert back after the fourth-graders move to Chatham Middle School. "We really don't know if it's going to be forever, it's really just to accommodate this large class," Caggiano said. "But there are no trailers, there's no problem with space, except at lunch."
New Motto, New Portal
This year, parents at LAS and the other elementary schools will be able to use the Genesis Parent Portal to track students' schedules, class assignments and individual progress and grades.
"We're also kicking off this year with our new motto," Caggiano said. Students submitted their ideas for the motto last year, and the school's management team narrowed it down to three. Students voted for their favorite. The winning motto is, "It is not about being the best, it is about being your best."
"We also did a poster contest, which I plan on making into a calendar," Caggiano said. "I also got them all framed and I'm going to hang them throughout the school.
Students will also arrive at school through a new awning, paid for by a donation from the LAS Parent Teacher Organization.
Back to School
Before students head into the classrooms, LAS will host an open house for parents and students to meet teachers and administrators. The open house will be 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5.
LAS's traditional "Clap In" will take place the morning of Thursday, Sept. 6 before classes begin. Fifth grade staff, students and parents will line up to applaud the incoming fourth graders.
Picture Day will be Wednesday, Sept. 12.
Back to School Night will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20.