In the neighborhoods near Shelton Elementary School, students and parents placed signs along the school’s bus routes in August to welcome new students on the first day of school. At Welchester …
In the neighborhoods near Shelton Elementary School, students and parents placed signs along the school’s bus routes in August to welcome new students on the first day of school.
At Welchester Elementary School, students, teachers and staff made bus tags to hang on the children’s backpacks that identified which bus the student needed to get on, and at which bus stop they needed to get off at.
“The biggest hiccup was transportation,” said Welchester Principal Bethany Robinson.
“Pleasant View was a walking school, so a lot of the kids had never ridden the bus before. It was a learning curve, but now all the kinks have been worked out.”
Pleasant View Elementary, 15920 W. 10th Ave., closed its doors May 23. The Jeffco Board of Education made the decision in February, citing low enrollment and aging building conditions among reasons for the closure.
Enrollment at the school, built in 1950, was just under 225 students at the end of the school year — the lowest it had been since 2000.
The school district’s records show that 276 students attended Pleasant View at some point during the last school year. Of those, 230 of them are now attending other Jeffco Public Schools this year. The majority are at Shelton, Welchester and Kyffin elementary schools in Golden. About 60 students are spread out among 30 other schools. And 23 students entered Bell Middle School.
Some 75 students are attending Shelton, 420 Crawford St., where total enrollment is 560, and about 50 students are at Welchester, 13000 W. 10th Ave., which has 309 students.
“It was appropriate to welcome everybody,” said Shelton Principal Karen Brown, noting that the school enrolled 100 new students this year, not all of them from Pleasant View. “It’s always about doing what’s best for all the kids.”
‘They have risen to the occasion’
Pleasant View was a Title I school — because a high percentage of the students came from low-income families, it received additional financial assistance to ensure academic
success for all students. And because of the students who came from Pleasant View, Welchester retained Title I status this school year.
Pleasant View’s preschool, which had about 60 students among its three classrooms, was also closed. Shelton does not have a preschool, but this year Welchester’s preschool expanded from one classroom that accommodates 16 students to two classrooms that offer full- and half-day sessions. Thirty-two kids attend Welchester’s preschool this year.
“We’re still working, but overall, it’s been a successful transition — given the circumstances of closing a school,” Robinson said. “We’re just trying to be aware and responsive to the needs and feelings of all of our new students and families.”
Class sizes at Shelton are slightly larger than in years past, Brown said. Kindergarten through fourth-grade classes average between 26 and 28 students, and the fifth- and sixth-grade class sizes average between 23 and 25 students.
At Welchester, among the kindergarten through sixth-grade classes, the smallest classroom has 18 students, and the largest classroom has 25 students, Robinson said.
Teachers and staff have come together help ensure each child’s success, Brown said, whether it be academic, social or behavioral.
“They have really risen to the occasion,” Brown said.
Faye Doverspike, a former teacher from Pleasant View, now teaches fifth grade at Welchester. She is glad she made the decision to transition over.
“It’s been really nice to have familiar faces around,” Doverspike said.
At the beginning of the school year, students from Pleasant View seemed to miss their school a lot, but they have been resilient, Doverspike said.
“They have been incredibly flexible and open to change,” she said. And “they’ve all made new friends and found ways to fit into the community.”
During the first few weeks of school, which started Aug. 17, both schools focused on getting-to-know-each-other activities, making new friends and building relationships, the principals said.
“We’re off to a good start,” said Susan Kimes-Demboski, the family engagement liaison at Shelton, a position she also held at Pleasant View. “And we still have a lot of things yet to come.”
Schools share some programs
All the students pitched in to help show the new students around and be friendly to each one of them, said Jasmine Chang, a fifth-grader at Shelton who has been attending the school her whole life.
“The best thing about having all the new kids is all the new friends that I was able to make,” she said.
Fifth-grader River Hebein now attends Welchester, and she has some friends from Pleasant View who are now also attending Welchester. She has made some new friends with her classmates, too, she said.
“I like that there’s a lot of new people to meet,” Hebein said, “and a lot of new teachers, too.”
One difference she noticed between the two schools is the size. “Pleasant View was big, but I feel like this one is bigger,” she said.
Her mother, Elizabeth Hebein, said they haven’t attended Welchester long enough yet to fully experience the school, but does miss the togetherness she felt at Pleasant View.
“They made everybody feel like they were a part of something,” she said. “You always felt like you were involved.”
At Welchester, PTA membership is better this year than it has been for over the past five years, Robinson said, which is great for the school community.
“We are able to offer more when we partner together,” she said. “Plus, teachers feel validated when parents are involved.”
Parent involvement at Shelton is about the same as in years past, Brown said, but Demboski pointed out some parents who did not volunteer at Pleasant View are doing so at Shelton.
The Parent Academy, a successful Pleasant View program that offers opportunities for parent involvement and engagement, had its kickoff meeting at Shelton on Oct. 23, and it’s already generating interest, Demboski said.
Building new bonds
The new students, Demboski said, seem to be happy and adjusting well.
“The transition has given all the kids the opportunity to be open to change,” she said, “and work through challenges together as a united classroom and school community.”
Nickey Brumbaugh feels the transition to Shelton from Pleasant View has gone well for herself and daughter Kenzie Hill, who is in the fourth grade.
“The size of the school and not having the same sense of community that Pleasant View had has been something to get used to,” Brumbaugh said, but added that everyone at Shelton has been kind and helpful.
The new students are adjusting quickly to learning new routines and rules, Brumbaugh said. One thing that has helped her daughter, in particular, is that her teacher is also from Pleasant View.
“So they share that bond,” Brumbaugh said.
Brumbaugh was involved at Pleasant View in a number of ways, and continues to stay involved at Shelton. She is volunteering with the yearbook as photographer, is in charge of kindergarten snack twice a week, does reading groups with the fourth-graders and helps out at recess. She is also joining the Parent Academy.
“I love seeing how happy and engaged the kids are,” Brumbaugh said. “We’re building new friendships and, hopefully, bringing some Pleasant View traditions to Shelton.”