By John Anderson
Temperatures were comfortable on Tuesday morning when over 2,400 students returned to Auburn schools or arrived for the first time. At dismissal the weather was not as comfortable, as Central Massachusetts heads for a potential heat wave.
I arrived at the Swanson Road Intermediate School at 8:05, and the parent drop-offs were beginning to queue up. Police officers, crossing guards and teachers were all on hand to make sure the process progressed efficiently and calmly. Principal Susan Lopez and other staff members directed students into the building and its designated waiting areas.
Lopez expected 556 students, and her intense preplanning showed off. As students got off the buses, their destinations were confirmed, and a few little ones had to reboard to continue on to Bryn Mawr. Most of the students seemed very happy to be in school again, and the faculty was visibly excited.
Although most of the renovations at 10 Swanson Rd. are complete, a few improvements remain in progress. There was clanging in the basement boiler room where a new boiler is being installed, and crews were still up on the roof finishing up the new membrane.
Superintendent Maryellen Brunelle said things went well on the first day of school, save for some traffic tie ups. Said Dr. Brunelle, “I visited the schools earlier this morning, and was able to visit with students and staff. There were lots of smiles and just a very high energy throughout the schools.”
As can be expected with the magnitude of change undergone throughout the district this year, there were some challenges. “At the end of the day, we had a logjam at West St. [Auburn Middle School], getting the buses in, as so many cars were coming in to pick up students – double what we expected. But that is something we are addressing and Wednesday should be even better.”
Busing always has issues during the first week or so, and this year is no exception. There is record ridership with over 1,500 students taking the buses, and new routes were only recently crafted with the addition of an 11th bus.
Although I have been following the renovations at Swanson Rd. all summer, any construction project is defined by the finish work. In this case, it is nearly perfect. The kitchen and cafeteria shine with expert workmanship, and the hallways and classrooms all look stellar. The new office space, guidance and media spaces also look terrific. A great job by all.