Holyoke students begin new year with separate elementary and middle schools

Holyoke students enjoyed their first day of the new school year on Wednesday. However, there is something new this year: separated elementary and middle schools
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 11:57 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2023 at 4:54 PM EDT
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HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Students in Holyoke enjoyed their first day of the new school year on Wednesday. However, there is something new this year: separated elementary and middle schools.

It was a long line of traffic on Holyoke’s Jarvis Avenue in the pouring rain Wednesday morning and for good reason, as parents were dropping off their kids at the newly named Sullivan Middle School. Sullivan was an elementary school last year. Holyoke parent Justo Perez told Western Mass News that his daughter is among those making a transition.

“She started at Metcalf for her very first day of school. It’s her first time out of that school, so it made us kind of nervous,” Perez said.

Last year, students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade were scattered all over the district as Holyoke Public Schools discussed how to properly rezone all of them with the peck building closing for good. With the new maps agreed upon, more than half of those students were in new buildings, with Holyoke STEM Academy and Metcalf also becoming middle schools. It will stay that way until the new Peck building is built in the coming years. Perez told us he feels good about Sullivan.

“We know this school has nice teachers and good programs. My daughter needs assistance from the nurse. She has diabetes. That’s why I’m here today: to meet the nurse, meet the staff, and make sure everything was the way it is,” Perez added.

Holyoke Public Schools Superintendent and Receiver Anthony Soto said the return to school went very well, with students being greeted by staff, community members, city councilors and first responders. In a statement sent, he went on to say:

“There were so many smiles on the faces of our students! They were excited to see their friends at school after the summer break, and to meet their teachers and school staff. For our students attending a new building this year, you could see how thrilled they were to have arrived at their new schools, and how easily they began settling in and getting ready to learn.”

Besides the rezoning as well as renovations at school buildings over the summer, the district also implemented a full-time Yondr pouch program for grades six through twelve in hopes of increasing classroom engagement. Perez likes the idea.

“My daughter has to use (a phone) all of the time because of this condition. She needs to use a sensor that lets us know her blood sugar, so I think it’s something good. It just depends on how the teachers and kids handle it,” Perez noted.

Despite the transition into these changes, Perez said he is a proud father and hopes his two and the rest of the students have a great school year.