AC elementary tour

Todd Kwiecinski of W Design of Hastings talks with Adams Central school board president Dave Johnson (left) and board member Randy Kort (center) as they tour elementary classrooms Feb. 12. 

When school starts in fall 2018, Adams Central will have a wide number of changes impacting almost every grade in the district.

“Overall, I think with the change in facilities, it gives us a great opportunity to look at our district and say, ‘What should we be doing better for our students,’” said Superintendent Shawn Scott. “All of these programs we have been paying for one way or another. Now, we’re putting them under our umbrella and taking care of them ourselves. Now we’re a complete district as Adams Central doing programs our way the right way to serve our community.”

The first starts with the addition of the new Adams Central Elementary, a single-site elementary now under construction just east of the existing junior/senior high school.

Adams Central patrons supported the project in the May 2016 primary election by approving the $19.7 million bond issue to build the new school to replace the three existing buildings of Adams Central East, Wallace and Juniata.

This new elementary building will be a three-and-a-half section school housing grades kindergarten through sixth grade.

The grades will be divided into pods with kindergarten having its own wing and grades one and two, three and four, five and six each sharing pods where they have their classrooms and a gathering space for large and small group activities.

The building features a large library and computer lab, a full-size gymnasium, cafeteria and full-size kitchen.

Many of these features did not exist or were extremely limited at the three existing elementary buildings.

Allyson Bohlen is the current Wallace Elementary principal and will serve as the new Adams Central Elementary principal starting this summer.

Bohlen’s current building, Wallace Elementary, will be put on the auction block and be sold later this year along with the Adams Central East buildings and property.

The Juniata Elementary site has already undergone some construction changes as it will be converted to a new use by the start of next school year.

When it reopens in the fall, the larger southern portion of the building will serve as the new Adams Central Early Childhood Center to serve preschool students.

For years, the district has contracted with Educational Service Unit No. 9. However, with a yearning to align curriculum between the preschool and kindergarten and the sudden opening of this building, the board approving creating its own preschool.

A total of 90 students have been admitted to the new program that will have two all-day, two morning and one afternoon preschool class. A total of four teachers have been hired.

Juniata principal Jennifer Pohlson, who already oversees the district’s youngest students, will transition full-time to serve as the special services and early education director at the end of this school year.

Pohlson will also oversee the Lifeskills program for students in kindergarten through age 21 who are considered lower function special education students.

Classrooms for this program will exist in both the new elementary and the existing junior/senior high school.

The new program will be called FAST, Functional Academic Skills Training. Two existing special education teachers will lead the two classes that teach life skills include money, time, functional reading, self care, communication, health and safety.

Pohlson estimates there will be four to five students in each of the two programs. They have room to also contract with other schools to serve students from area districts, as well.

Adams Central currently contracts with Hastings Public Schools for Lifeskills. They previously worked with Educational Service Unit No. 9.

The other program that will go in the existing Juniata Elementary building starting next fall will be PATS (Pursuing Academics Toward Success), the new alternative education program for high school students.

The program will be run by Lonnie Abbott, the current principal at Adams Central East Elementary.

Students who will be in this program are currently part of the Hastings High alternative education program or are currently struggling to success at Adams Central.

Abbott said students in the program will use the online program Odyssey to work through classes at their own pace. They will have benchmarks and requirements to meet in order to graduate.

With this programs, students would be able to take part in internships and possibly work for pay while earning school credit.

Abbott has toured several other alternative education programs and is still hammering out all of the details of the new program.

The final new program added in fall 2018 will be an after-school program on the elementary level to be run by the Hastings Family YMCA.

The program will be housed at the elementary and be run by program director Tabbie Metcalf, an employee with the YMCA.

The daily schedule will have students arrive into the commons area when school dismissed where they will have a healthy snack. Then there will be a time for physical fitness and exercise until about 4:20 p.m.

From then until about 5:30 p.m., there will be enrichment time which will include activities on monthly themes in areas like agriculture, careers, and service learning.

Troy Stickels, the YMCA’s chief executive officer, said the hope is to work with community partners like 4-H or Prairie Loft with some of that educational programming.

The last half hour the program is open each day there will be homework time and time for club activities like some of those existing now at the elementary schools. Those include things like robotics and chess.

The program will be for students in kindergarten through sixth grade and is slated to cost $10 per day. Families will only be charged for the days students attend.

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