Summer prelude

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Veterans Memorial Junior High School Principal David Tober was dunked at least 10 times Monday morning. He didn’t mind it. In fact, he said it was refreshing.

No wonder. With temperatures climbing into the high 80s, a splash in a dunk tank was welcome, as was the breeze that blew across the school’s athletic fields as the school’s seventh and eight graders took a break from classes to enjoy an end of the year field day sponsored in large part by the Parents Teachers Student Association. The PTSA provided water for all the kids as well as tickets redeemable for frozen lemonade from a New England Lemonade truck parked at the school entrance.

While the field day might seem an appropriate way to end the academic year, the last day of school for Vets students is Thursday. Tober assured there’s plenty to keep the students busy until then.

Tober won’t be taking the summer off. He is gearing up for the school’s transition from a junior to a middle school with grades 6 through 8. He said the school is preparing for the influx of students that will boost enrollment from 850 to 1,200 students. He said the school annex building is being re-purposed for three classrooms. There will also be some changes to classrooms in the existing building, including some new furniture. A big part of the summer work will be scheduling.

With secondary school consolidation and the closure of Aldrich and Gorton Junior High Schools and the elimination of Vets High, Vets was re-purposed as a junior high two years ago. It was to have transitioned to a middle school last year, an action that was delayed a year as issues with Vets were addressed.

With the inclusion of 6th grade in two middle schools – Vets and Winman – the district is moving ahead this year with elementary school consolidation. Three schools – Randall Holden, Wickes and John Brown Francis – will close this week.

But school consolidation was not the priority Monday, or for that matter a topic of conversation. Rather, it was all about the activities of field day. Warwick Police and Fire were present to talk about their jobs and show off equipment and answer questions. The basketball court was popular. There were movies in the auditorium and giant inflatable games and sidewalk chalk art outside.

No matter what anyone might say, it felt like the last day of school…hot and lazy.

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