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Summer classroom shuffle moving along

Teacher Jeff Holtkamp on Wednesday begins opening boxes in his classroom. Holtkamp is staying in the same classroom for next year, but he'll be teaching third grade instead of fifth grade. He packed up his fifth-grade materials and will unpack boxes received from a third-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School. Tribune photo by Linda Vanderwerf

Wednesday morning, the moving crew at Roosevelt Elementary School faced a cafeteria packed wall to wall and six feet deep with moving boxes. By mid afternoon, they had delivered more than three-quarters of the boxes and other equipment to classrooms throughout the building. Stacks of chairs and some cafeteria tables headed for the middle school remained in the cafeteria, along with furniture still waiting for a home.

The effort at Roosevelt -- located on 19th Avenue Southwest -- was one more step in the process to shuffle about two-thirds of the classrooms in the Willmar School District in a major reorganization of grades K-8 and community education programs.

The School Board voted last spring to close two buildings and repurpose another, leaving the district with two elementary schools, a middle school, a senior high and an alternative school. Community Education and Recreation will move into a former elementary school.

Ordinarily, the custodial staff would be getting rooms cleaned, waxed and ready for another school year right now, said head custodian Jeff Weitzel, as he stood in the steadily shrinking sea of boxes.

Many of the rooms were waxed in June, he said, after sixth-grade classrooms were moved to the middle school -- the former junior high located on Willmar Avenue Southeast. Roosevelt formerly had grades 4-6. In the fall, it will have grades 1-5, with kindergarteners moving in later in the school year, once an addition is completed.

So far, everything is going pretty well, Weitzel said.

Teachers pitched in before they left for the summer, and the district's summer workers, mostly high school or college students, are a big help, he said. Roosevelt normally has three workers for the summer, and they borrowed four from other buildings for the major effort on Wednesday.

While the students used carts and dollies to deliver boxes, Weitzel and night foreman Barb Larsen sorted the boxes to make each trip as efficient as possible.

Teachers Jeff Holtkamp and Courtney Hauge surveyed the boxes in his classroom. Holtkamp is one of a few Roosevelt teachers staying in the same classroom for next year. He still has to pack and unpack, though, because he is switching from teaching fifth-graders to third-graders.

Holtkamp's boxes "went to whoever went to fifth grade," and he received boxes of third-grade materials from a teacher in the former Lincoln Elementary.

There haven't been very many teachers in the school buildings during the summer, they said, but they expect more will stop by as their rooms are cleaned and boxes are delivered.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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