Students, faculty bid farewell to Kingsbury Middle School |

Students, faculty bid farewell to Kingsbury Middle School

Adam Jensen and Sara Thompson
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune Eric Ward is loaded down with bags as he leaves Kingsbury Middle School for the last time Monday afternoon.

Just like nearly every graduation, the band played “Pomp and Circumstance,” but one detail surrounding Monday’s eighth-grade commencement ceremony at Kingsbury Middle School wasn’t so typical.

After 31 years of educating students, Kingsbury Middle School closed its doors to students for the final time Monday because of declining enrollment.

The final graduate from the middle school, Jakeb Williams, joined other students, parents and Douglas County School District employees in bidding farewell to the school.

“I’m sad to see this place close,” Williams said. “I loved this place.”

Cathy Ricioli, a 30-year teacher at the middle school who is retiring this year, said she’ll miss the time she has spent at the school.

“It’s a little gem in the woods,” Ricioli said.

Eighth-grader Darby Reeder also said she’s sad the school is closing. During the last few weeks of school, teachers began packing up their classrooms permanently to prepare for the closure. Boxes line the hallways, with labels to mark the supplies’ final destination.

“It’s not the most enjoyable thing to see,” Reeder said.

Some teachers expressed the challenge of packing with school still in session.

“We’re trying to pack and do finals,” Nancy Roberts said.

Roberts is retiring this year after 24 years of teaching at the middle school and said it was a privilege to teach there, because teachers are able to get to know the parents and students really well.

The saddest part is breaking up the teaching staff, Roberts said.

Those middle school teachers and staff who are not retiring will be spread among Whittell High School, Zephyr Cove Elementary School and district facilities in the Carson Valley, said Rich Alexander, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources.

Wendy Smith, a seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher, said she will have to go down to the valley to continue teaching in the district.

Future sixth-graders will be taught at Zephyr Cove, and seventh- and eighth-graders will be integrated with the high schoolers at Whittell, and some students are looking forward to it.

Seventh-grader Peter Bernatchez said he’s excited to be in school with the high school students because he looks up to them. He thinks the consolidation process will go well.

Reeder also thinks students will miss out on the transition between elementary school and high school since there won’t be a middle school.

“(Middle school) helped me understand the homework load and the freedom you have,” Reeder said.

The small size of the high school will play a big part in aiding the transition, teachers and students said.

Parent Kathy Percival said the middle school’s strength was its size – no students slipped through the cracks.

“The small size helps with the success of the students,” Percival said. “There’s positive peer pressure at this school.”

Although school district staff will continue to move supplies from Kingsbury to Zephyr and Whittell after Monday, the future of the middle school site has yet to be decided, said the district’s assistant superintendent, Richard Alexander, who has seen three of his own children graduate from the middle school.

A small “Goodbye K.M.S.” heading on the graduation program was one of several subtle hints that Monday’s ceremony signaled the end of an era, but the graduation was largely similar to previous year-end celebrations, Principal Dan Wold said. Wold will be moving to an assistant principal position at Whittell High School.

“It’s about the kids,” Wold said. “It’s not about the closure, it’s not about the teachers retiring, it’s about the kids.”


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