East Rockaway students still displaced

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Arena said he would like to attend at least his last month of high school at ERHS, where he has been since seventh grade, but he is glad to still be with his friends and teachers regardless of the location. He drives to school some days if he has to get there early for extra help, he said, but mostly he takes a bus. Like most East Rockaway students, he had never taken a bus to school, and called the experience “weird.”

“Taking buses to school every morning and having to get up that much earlier is really a pain,” Arena said.

Shortly after the move, district officials amended the policy that allows students in grades 10, 11 and 12 to go out for lunch, making Shubert a closed campus.

Even though he would prefer to leave the premises for lunch, Arena said that he understands why the closed-campus policy is in place. He got a car a few months ago, and was excited to use it to get lunch, which is no longer an option.

“[Baldwin] is an unfamiliar neighborhood for our students and our staff,” said Superintendent Dr. Roseanne Melucci, “and it was important to have everyone accounted for throughout the day.”

So, for the more than 400 students who attend classes at Shubert — as well as school employees — lunchtime has changed drastically (another 200 East Rockaway Junior High School students attend Milburn.) The lunch periods themselves have remained unchanged, explained new Principal Joe Spero, and for the most part, students have responded positively — although some are unhappy that they can’t leave. During the busier lunch periods in the middle of the day, Spero said, there is an overflow classroom where students can eat and socialize when the cafeteria gets too crowded. “It’s not ideal,” he said. “I wish we could’ve provided even more, but given what we had, we made the necessary adjustments in food service.”

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