Sunnyside media center now open to students

It has been an ongoing process for the necessary repairs to be made at Sunnyside Elementary School, but Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet said the city took a step in the right direction as it recently opened the newly renovated media center for students to use.

On its opening day, the media center was packed with Board of Education and Board of Aldermen members, staff from Sunnyside and even some of the students from the school.

The crowd feasted their eyes on the media center’s 12 new laptops that students will regularly work on and to which they have been assigned logins, a Smart Board that will eventually be hung on the wall, tables that can break down into individual desks or be rearranged for different purposes, a load of new books, and a “makerspace” area designated for students to work on hands-on projects.

Those in attendance shared their favorite additions to the media center and discussed their high hopes for the impact it would have on the students’ education.

Board of Ed member Dr. Darlissa Ritter said she attended Sunnyside when she was in grammar school and was amazed by how much the school had changed for the better.

“This was very close to my heart, because my principal while I attended, Mrs. McGrath, inspired me to pursue a future in education,” said Dr. Ritter. “Everything I see so far is wonderful, and this is where learning should take place. I know great things are coming.”

The school’s new part-time library media specialist, Kari Yacawych, said she’s excited to see the students take advantage of all the space the media center has to offer. She will be one of the staff members who is in the media center most frequently.

“I know the kids are going to do great things in here,” said Yacawych. “There’s just a more welcoming vibe in here that I think will make them comfortable in here. I think they’re going to learn about the things that excite them and make them want to be creative and innovative, and they’ll take their experiences throughout their lives. I can’t wait to get everybody in here.”

Clouet said the renovation shows that the Board of Education and Board of Aldermen share the same commitment to the kids and their future.

Sunnyside Principal Amy Yost said she recalls frustrating points throughout the process of completing the media center but is confident that it will enhance the students’ learning experience.

“We hope that this new library inspires,” said Yost. “I hope that I am looking at the next Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, nurses, veterinarians, community leaders in this room. These are the next generation of electricians, engineers and environmentalists.

“While the purpose of this media center was to enhance the way students learn, we are also aware of the skills and knowledge they bring to the table, too. Some of the technology they are more familiar with than we are, so we’re ready to learn from them as well.”

Yost emphasized how much of the project’s success came from a collaborative effort.

Mayor Mark Lauretti attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony as well and was also very involved in the process of having the media center completed. He said it was a top priority of things to be completed in time for the 2016 school year.

“Dr. Clouet and I have discussed this whole roof issue, which we all know has turned into a long story, very problematic, but one that’s going to be solved,” said Lauretti. “And it is certainly on the way to being solved, but we both felt it was important to get a roof over the media center so that the school year and the learning process would not be impacted. … We were able to do that and this is really what will take the learning process to the next level.”

A parent of a Sunnyside student, Anne Gaydos, attended the ceremony as well and said she was pleased with how the project turned out.

“Of course, we all still are pushing for the roof to be completed, but this is a great start,” said Gaydos.

The superintendent announced back in September that the second phase of the project will cover the rest of the school’s roof and is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2017.