• Sabina Csak

Central Middle School

On Feb. 4 the Reputable Engineering Firm deemed Central Middle School an unsafe building for students and staff.

Luckily, all of the schools in the Greenwich Public Schools District were closed anyway due to the snow, so the town had a three-day weekend to figure out what to do about the situation. Since there was only a week until winter break, it was decided that the students would be accommodated by various other schools in the district until the whole situation was further evaluated during Feb. break.

The students were separated by grade level: sixth graders went to Cos Cob School, seventh graders went to Eastern Middle School and eighth graders went to Greenwich High School.

The sixth graders learned in different areas of Cos Cob School depending on the team they were assigned. “Going back to Cos Cob School was like going home,” said Cali Prisinzano, one of the sixth graders at Central. “This was where I went to elementary school, and my mom is a teacher there. Learning there was a great experience, given the situation [and] all of my teachers were there in one place, which was nice.”

The seventh graders who had classes online at Eastern were seated in the auditorium. “The first few days were tough because everything felt very confusing and strange and that caused me to not get a lot of work done,” said Naomi Voigt, a CMS seventh grader. “Being placed in an area with your whole grade can easily get annoying. We were lucky enough to be able to get out of the auditorium as the week went on and go to short classes with our teachers in the most random classes.”

The eighth graders were sent to the GHS Performing Arts Center, where they were given asynchronous assignments to do. “Learning at GHS was a double-edged sword. It was nice to be able to see where we are going to school in the coming years, but it was extremely hard to learn,” said Sylvester Pecora, an eighth grader at CMS. “Being in an auditorium makes it so the room is loud, and there were just a ridiculous amount of different things going on,” Pecora continued, “it was much harder to focus, even when you were in a separate room.”

Each student had different feelings about how comfortable they were in their new locations. “I was able to go to any teacher if I needed help on an assignment. It was beneficial because we got to work at our own pace throughout the day,” said Prisinzano. She also added that it was fun to interact with the younger kids at Cos Cob: “We made origami for the students and went to their classrooms to pass them out, as a thank you for hosting us. I also went to my kindergarten teachers' class and read a book to the kindergarten students. It was fun to see some of the familiar faces of the students and teachers that I had when I was at Cos Cob.”

“I honestly wouldn’t say it was uncomfortable,” Voigt described. “I have heard a couple people didn't have the best experience with the EMS students, but since I knew a good number of them, they never really bothered me and instead I got to talk to them. I personally thought they were really considerate after all that's happened.” Despite this, Voigt still felt that it didn’t compare to her experience learning at Central. “I've never realized how much I loved CMS until I came back,” she said. “When we came back, it was as if nothing happened, which was very refreshing.”

Pecora thought the new environment was fine, but was more uncomfortable with the situation in general. “I have been to the high school many times for many reasons (concerts, String Festival, etc.) so I have gotten a bit more used to it. Generally, it was fairly comfortable, just really hard to learn and focus on the tasks at hand,” he said. He added that he felt some unease with how the situation was handled: “I think that the part that makes us students most angry though, is the fact that Greenwich, the third most wealthy town in the state, has a public school system that isn't … ok, for lack of better words. I couldn't possibly imagine staying in the High School auditorium for an entire year. I enjoyed it generally, but I wouldn't choose to be there over CMS.” Pecora also expressed some fear that he had when the news came out: “North Mianus had its ceiling collapse, and thank god that it wasn't on a weekday where there would have been children in the classroom. Having schools that are unsafe is a liability, and projects like repairing our schools should be a top priority.”

During February break, engineers identified the source of the problem within the gym, and that the students would be able to return to the rest of the building the following week. However, there still was a lot of work to be done. The Board of Estimation and Taxation prioritized the construction of a new Central Middle School, and work has already begun on the project.

The project is set to be complete as of January 2026, so naturally there is still scaffolding set up around Central Middle school while students are attending. However, Pecora, Voigt, and Prisinzano all said that this did not affect their day to day life. “It was different and odd at first to hear the construction and having the windows blocked. It is much darker inside than it was before the scaffolding was put up,” said Prisinzano. “But now I am used to it. My schedule hasn't changed. All of the classes are the same classes as well as their locations. Everything is just darker.”

The lives of the students are pretty much back to normal. “Our schedules haven't changed and I got to go back to play rehearsals since before we were all separated at different schools,” said Voigt. Despite the drawbacks, she has had a positive outlook throughout the whole situation, saying that the construction “kinda makes the school pretty cool.”

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