Friday, September 3rd, 2010
By Janie Southard
St. Marys school just about ready
  ST. MARYS - Right three turns, left two turns then back right one turn. Be sure to stop exactly on the number.
Eight-graders were fiddling with new locker combinations on Thursday, just days before the opening of the new school.
The new high/middle school is a "big wow," according to students. The school, nearly the size of a small village, welcomed its first batch of students during middle school orientation.
Tucked away in the corner of her new classroom, high school intervention specialist Kristi Frye sat on the floor sorting through a few hundred different school supplies. Periodically she filed a stack or two in the cabinet behind her.
"So far, I've unloaded 103 boxes from my old classroom. Over the years I've taught everything from K-12, so I've accumulated a lot of stuff. And, I know I don't dare throw anything away," said the 28-year teacher who is beginning her 12th year with the St. Marys school district.
Although she carries a building map in her pocket, she's excited to be teaching in the "all new and clean" building, that features several shades of blue and gold even on some inlay mosaic forming large Roughrider emblems.
"Actually I could teach anywhere because I just love, love, love my students. Some have been with me for five years. Most teachers have their students one year and then they're gone. I really am very fortunate," Frye said arranging a rainbow of pencils in groups.
Down the hallway moving south, past the high school office where several administrators also were getting their spots in order, a group of eighth-graders were unusually subdued as they spun their combination locks one way, checked their papers, and flipped the dial the opposite direction.
One frustrated teen said he'll probably never get to class on time because he's "lock challenged."
Around the corner, down a long hall past the smaller gym on the left and an outside courtyard on the right, is the blue and yellow tiled cafeteria that will serve lunch to about 1,300 students and staff every day and also provide breakfast from 7:05-9:30 a.m. to those interested.
"We now have closed lunch periods. Nobody leaves the school. I think we can get it done," food service supervisor Donna Kentner said.
Kentner is no stranger to the whole process of the care and feeding of students. She's been at it for 25 years.
"I started in the district as a substitute dish washer. Then I went to cashier and then head cook," said Kentner, who began the new year with a budget carryover from last year, one of the few area school district cafeterias to operate in the black.
The brightly-colored food service area features a restaurant/deli/bistro atmosphere.
"There's a hot food area, a cold food and a special build-a-meal area where kids can put together a lunch of, for instance, popcorn chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetable - whatever they want to add. We have about nine combinations altogether that we will rotate every nine days," Kentner said as she picked up one of the new food trays that feature a Roughrider in silhouette.
Kentner is testing a few ideas to push toward a healthier lunch.
"Anyone who wants to have a specialty potato - french fries, potato wedges and so forth - can only get it with a full meal, plus the potato will cost an additional 55 cents," she said.
Perhaps her idea will at least give kids some hesitation to really consider what they're choosing to eat.
"We'll see," she said.
Classes for all students begin Wednesday.
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