STATEN ISLAND — Parents felt a mix of anxiety and relief as kids living in some of the areas of the borough hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy headed back to school in new buildings.
Roughly 500 students from P.S. 52 on Buel Avenue were forced to move to the sprawling P.S. 80 at 715 Ocean Terr. about 3-1/2 miles away after their South Shore school was damaged during the storm.
The new school's principal, Joanne Buckheit said she was trying to make things as comfortable as possible for the new students, who arrived by busloads before the 8 a.m. bell rang. The kids were greeted with welcoming signs and embraces from their new classmates.
“We’re turning non-instructional space, like the library, into classes to make room,” she said. “Our goal is to make them feel welcome.”
The principal added that she was not worried about overcrowding, though there would likely be a squeeze on the school’s resources for a while, with a rumor floating around parents that the new arrangement could last months.
P.S. 52 is one of two schools in the borough that officials relocated after the storm. I.S. R002, the George L. Egbert school, on hard-hit Midland Avenue moved to New Dorp High School at 465 New Dorp Ln. about a mile and a half away.
While the Department of Education provided buses to bring the displaced students to their new school, some parents decided to drive their nervous kids to their new campus. Just before school started at P.S. 80, Debora Munno, 38, reassured her 10-year-old daughter Julianna that everything would be okay.
Julianna, a fifth grader, however, was nervous.
“I’m scared because it’s new and it’s a big school,” she said.
Her mother was more optimistic.
“I’d rather be in my regular school,” she said. “It’s unfortunate, but if this is our biggest problem out of the storm — you know some people lost their houses — we’ll take it.”
Munno added that she was worried about overcrowding at the new school after the influx of new students.
“I want to make sure they get the same education they would get at their old school,” she said. “But it’s good to have them back — a week off is a long time.”