Carroll College welcomed its youngest class Monday as 470 children from Rossiter Elementary School replaced college students on campus.
Rossiter has been closed since May 7 due to flooding, and students in grades four and five spent three days last week in classes at Helena Middle School. All Rossiter students resumed classes Monday at Carroll College, where Principal Doug Baker said they will finish the rest of their school year. The spring semester has concluded at Carroll, with the 2018 class graduating on Saturday.
On Monday, school activities were spread throughout four different buildings, including St. Charles and Simperman halls. Lunch was held in the “Cube,” or Campus Center, where Carroll's dining services provider, Sodexo, served hot lunches for some students while others brought their own. Gym class was held in the Hunthausen Activity Center, and recess -- the cornerstone of elementary education -- was held on the grassy area between the Cube and Trinity Lounge. Kids who participate in after-school programs were bused to Four Georgians Elementary.
Moving to a bigger campus brought a bout of challenges for the Rossiter staff. At the end of the first day, teachers and paraeducators met to discuss these challenges, which included supervision on a large campus.
“We had to bring in a couple of additional staff members, people who had substituted at Rossiter and who are helping us out in any capacity,” Baker said. “We could actually probably use a few additional people to help out with that, because you’re not in the confined space that you are in a school setting. It’s so wide open; you have to be concerned about that.”
The distance between buildings was also brought up as an obstacle to overcome in the next few weeks. Having to walk farther between activities can put a strain on scheduling, and teachers and paras had to work together to figure out who would supervise each walk from building to building.
According to Linda Sandvig, a para for Rossiter, the staff worked together to address this issue.
“There’s always some challenges when it comes to something this drastic in change,” Sandvig said. “The fact that we’ve got 470 students in different buildings makes it different than in just one small school. That was a challenge, but we met it with courage and great ease, actually. All of our teachers stepped up for everything.”
Some other roadblocks that the staff ran into were the organizing of lunch and dismissal periods, teacher and para exhaustion, accessing off-campus necessities such as printing, and training for the Governor’s Cup Kids Marathon.
Despite the problems that Rossiter staff encountered on their first day at Carroll, many acknowledged the positives that they witnessed during the school day. Sarah Dramstad, an all-grades music teacher, said the staff’s teamwork and community support guided them through the day.
“We know that we will succeed if we remain flexible and work as a team, and we’re doing a pretty great job of doing that so far,” Dramstad said. “We’ve had so much community support within the district, outside of the district and at Carroll College. It’s like everywhere we turn, someone is there with an offer of help.”
During the end of day roundup, teachers and paras shouted out their “pros,” which ranged from parents helping out with the transition, to students expressing interest in Carroll College for their higher education and feeling like grown-up college kids.
“I think the kids are really excited to be on campus,” Dramstad said. “They keep making jokes about how they’re college kids.”