KENWOOD — The week of school at Canter Middle School has been quiet — unsettlingly quiet — according to the principal.
The school at 4959 S. Blackstone Ave. has only eighth-graders this year as the Chicago Public Schools has begun phasing out the middle school.
“The whole third floor is not being used for anything at all,” Principal Colleen Conlan said Tuesday.
With half of the teaching staff gone and only 95 students walking the hallways between classes, the atmosphere of the school has changed, Conlan said.
“Even the kids say it feels so empty,” Assistant Principal Eric Lewis said as parents driving away with their kids dragged a dust cloud down Blackstone Avenue. “During class changes there’s no one in the hallways.”
Conlan and Lewis said the first few days of school were surprisingly easy compared to the summer.
Construction on water mains on Blackstone Avenue closed the street for most of the summer, and Conlan and Lewis struggled to get maintenance crews out to work on the building.
“They stopped cutting our grass,” Conlan said, adding that she frequently had to explain to workers that the school would still be open this year.
She said she even had to drive out a crew that arrived earlier this summer to pack up the library under the false impression that the school was closed.
Despite the struggles, Conlan said the school had only six students transfer out, but the school recruited five new students and class sizes are at a stable 28 students per classroom.
Conlan said Canter has kept much of its teaching staff, losing only one on Friday on medical leave.
“Everyone’s that here wants to be here,” Conlan said. “The staff is in it for the long haul.”
Conlan said she’s going to see it through to the end too, and is working on how to send the remaining eighth-graders on a trip to Washington, D.C., this year.