First Year Begins For WRV Middle School

A buzz of excited chatter filled the cafeteria at the new White River Valley Middle School (formerly Whitcomb Middle and High School) as students paraded in to enjoy their first lunch of the year.

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The room was packed with middle schoolers, a little over half of whom hail from South Royalton, said middle school Principal Owen Bradley.

“I’m pretty nervous,” said sixth grade student Arabella Martiere. “I mean it’s so many people and the first day of middle school, too!”

Martiere, from South Royalton, added that even though it’s a little nerve-racking, she’s excited to be at the school in Bethel.

“It’s really nice to have friends here, too,” she added.

Eighth grade student Lillian Balley, of Bethel, said it feels a little strange to see so many new faces in such a familiar place.

Rising Numbers

Bradley noted that last year just over 80 students attended Whitcomb middle and high school combined, but that under the new merger, with students from both Bethel and South Royalton, more than 120 students are currently enrolled in just the middle school.

The White River Valley High School, in South Royalton, also has notably bigger class sizes this year, noted Bradley.

“We didn’t really know how many [students] to expect until today,” noted Bradley, “but it’s pretty exciting to have them all here!”

For eighth grade student Mathieu Dent, who moved to South Royalton from South Dakota this summer, the White River Valley Middle School feels much smaller than what he’s used to.

“My school before was like three times the size of this, but this is cool,” said Dent.

He added that the small school has a very different feeling than his last school.

“I mean the teachers just have a different attitude—it’s like they’re more ready to teach us,” said Dent.

How Many Lunches?

Kitchen staff member Emmy Poland said not having an exact number of students meant that the kitchen staff cooked a lot of extra food, just in case more students arrived.

“Plus we always want to make sure we have seconds,” said Poland, “Which is a great thing—I mean, when I was in school, if you ate all the food on your plate that was it.”

Poland said she’s excited for the challenge of cooking for more students this year, but added that it’s helpful to have a definite number now.

“It’s been really sweet to have some of the middle school students from last year introduce their friends from South Royalton to me as they come through the lunch line,” said Poland.

“Interacting with kids—it’s awesome, I mean it’s the best part of this job,” she added, as she chopped fruit for a snack on Thursday.

Bradley noted that he’s particularly grateful to have a staff and faculty in place this year that offer a wide range of both teaching and life experience.

“I really think this is going to be a great year,” he emphasized.

-- ZOË NEWMARCO

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