Westfield Middle School tour begins with pizza

WMS Assistant Principal Peter Lurgio greeted parents and students as they came to the door for the building tour. (Photo by Amy Porter)

WESTFIELD – Soon-to-be seventh graders and their families who attended Westfield Middle School’s building tour on Thursday were greeted at the door by Assistant Principal Peter Lurgio, and told they could get in line for pizza.

Lurgio said the tours are always a gamble, because you never know how many people will attend. WMS has 800 students.
“I’ve never heard of a school feeding people that want to come,” commented one parent.
WMS Principal Paul Newton, who was also greeting the new students as they got in line, said the pizza is paid for by the Parent Teacher Advisory Committee (PTAC).

“We’ve done building tours on four different occasions prior to this one, with another one after this on Aug. 21. That’s six evenings where we’re inviting the people in. It’s for the seventh graders; we want to make them feel a part of Westfield Middle School,” Newton said. He said they were trying to give people some good information about the school and what to expect.

Assistant Principals Jessica Kennedy, Karri Kells and volunteer Linda Kells serve pizza to families. (Photo by Amy Porter)

Newton said any leftover pizza is donated to the Westfield Police Department, Fire Department and the Samaritan Inn. Thursday, however, there was none left over, as between 100 and 150 students and their families came to the tour.
After most were served, Newton picked up the microphone, thanked everyone for coming, and introduced himself and his team to the group.
When thanking the PTAC, Newton asked the seventh grade parents to get involved. He said the first PTAC meeting will be on Sept. 12, then the WMS Open House on Sept. 19. The Open House starts with a barbeque, donated by the Polish National Credit Union. Newton said last year, they fed 800, and could use some extra volunteers.
WMS t-shirts were also for sale for $3, with more sizes to be ordered. Newton said the shirts were sponsored by Westfield Savings Bank. “It’s wonderful to have all these partners to help us,” he said.

Assistant Principal Karri Kells leads the tour through the seventh grade academic wing. (Photo by Amy Porter)

Several groups then began touring the building. Assistant Principal Karri Kells led one of the tours. “I’m excited. It’s my second year as assistant principal,” Kells said.
“Almost every day we go outside,” Kells said as they passed some windows leading to the back of the school. “You can eat outside, sit with your friends; we treat you like young adults.”
Passing the library, Kells called their librarian “phenomenal.” She said this year, the library will offer yoga and mindfulness space.
Going down the seventh grade academic wing, she said the classes are all next to each other, so the students have plenty of time to get to each class.
Students and families were also shown the auditorium, where she said they will put on plays and musicals, and watch movies; the technology wing, where classes in robotics, engineering and computer science are given; and the foreign language wing on the second floor. Kells said WMS has three Spanish teachers.
Kells explained that in the first week of school, every student will be given a laptop, which will stay in school, she said. No cell phones; students can have them, but they must be off and away. “We’re giving students computers; you don’t need cell phones,” she said.
“Our biggest thing is building relationships.” Kells said. She said a lot of times, the administration has to deal with things they never knew about, and she encouraged students and parents to talk to them.
She also said that student schedules will be available Aug. 21, although there may be some adjustments made to those schedules.
“All you have to do is get here. We’ll take care of you from there.” Kells said.

WHS sophomore Kelsey Gagnon, who attended WMS North, her father Michael Gagnon, also a WMS graduate, and Morgan Gagnon, who is entering the seventh grade. (Photo by Amy Porter)

After the tour, seventh grader Morgan Gagnon said the school looked smaller than the Westfield Intermediate School to her. “It’s definitely bigger than my elementary school,” she said when asked for her impressions.
Her tenth grade sister Kelsey Gagnon went to Westfield Middle School North, as did her father Michael Gagnon, some 30 years ago.
“It looks the same; not with all the technology,” said Michael Gagnon, who appreciated the classes taught in the technology wing. “Every kid should learn a trade; not every kid can go to college. The world still needs plumbers, electrician, and truck drivers,” added Gagnon, who said he drives a truck.
Morgan Gagnon said she likes dance, drama and softball.
“She’s just looking to finish seventh grade,” said her mom, Jennifer Gagnon.

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