By Celine Klosterman
Beginning in the 2010-11 academic year, Holy Trinity Catholic Schools in Lee County will hold all kindergarten classes at the West Point building.
Currently, kindergarten students meet either at the Holy Trinity Early Childhood Center in Fort Madison or at Holy Trinity Elementary in West Point. Moving all classes to the elementary building will allow kindergarteners to be part of that school’s community and take part in assemblies and weekly Masses, said Melissa Pieper. Director of Holy Trinity’s early childhood centers in St. Paul and Fort Madison, she said the move also will allow teachers to work together on activities and share equipment.
The positions of both kindergarten teachers and an aide will be retained. In an effort to maintain small class sizes, Holy Trinity will continue to hold two separate kindergarten classes.
Nine students now attend kindergarten in Fort Madison; 14 meet in West Point. Pieper said Holy Trinity expects 20-21 kindergarteners to enroll next year.
“We’re very excited about this,” Doris Turner, principal of Holy Trinity Catholic Schools, said of the change. “This was something we’d hoped to be able to do.” She said the West Point building initially didn’t offer space for a second kindergarten class. But rearranging and moving some classrooms will provide room.
For students living in the Fort Madison area, buses will be available to transport them from Fort Madison to and from West Point, 11 miles away. Incoming kindergarteners and their parents are invited to ride the bus from Fort Madison to West Point May 27 and visit Holy Trinity Elementary.
Turner said some parents have voiced hesitancy about their kindergarteners riding the bus. But she said she believes students will benefit from the educational opportunities at the elementary building — including more physical education, art, music and talented and gifted offerings.
Sara Mueller, a Fort Madison resident and mother of incoming kindergartener Brooke, said that while hearing plans to move local classes was hard at first, she thinks the change will bring advantages. “I love the little, close-knit school we have, but I think it will be a wonderful opportunity to have the students side by side with the teachers working together.”
She said Brooke will continue in the Holy Trinity school system in coming years. “I’m very happy with the education she’s getting there.”
Except for kindergarten, current offerings at the Fort Madison Early Childhood Center will remain. Those offerings include preschool, pre-kindergarten, daycare and school-age care. Space left after kindergarteners leave will allow a before-and-after school program now held at a neighboring building to move into the center, Pieper said.