Go inside as teachers and administrators return to prepare at Groves Primary School

Published 12:20 am Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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GROVES — Teachers in Port Neches-Groves Independent School District returned to their classrooms this week with some showing up to brand new schools.

One of the new schools, Groves Primary School on Cleveland Avenue, was bustling with activity inside and out as teachers began getting their rooms ready and construction crews continued to work on the one-story building.

Principal Joe Cegielski and Assistant Principal Tricia Sandell sat in Cegielski’s office and talked about the start of the new school year.

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“Everyone is really excited, and everybody’s spirits are really, really good,” Cegielski said. “And we’re seeing great changes everyday. Yes, there’s going to be a couple of things not finished when we get started, but nothing that’s going to be critical to any of the logistics of the building.”

One of the things that won’t be ready is a parking lot. One of the lots is complete with about 60 spots, but the larger one that will have approximately 90 spots is not ready but is expected to be completed by October.

Cegielski’s office was almost bare holding a desk and chairs but no computers on Monday morning.

Some office equipment had arrived Monday and was seen being brought inside.

Cegielski and Sandell walked to a kindergarten room where some boxes were set out and some furniture in place. A state-of-the-art Boxlight Networked Device Management System was in place and turned on in one area of the room. The device features a touch screen and can be operated in a number of ways to enhance learning.

A next-door classroom was a little farther along. Visible from the front lobby of the school is the library. Cegielski said it would be a centerpiece once completed.

Columns with texture like a tree rise skyward in the room. Sandell explained the truck would be painted and there will be wood near the top of the branches. Along the ceiling area are circular lights that would be the “leaves” of the trees.

And while there are still a few things left to be completed, Sandell said the safety and security of the students is top priority.

Groves Primary School includes approximately 620 students from prekindergarten to second grade. The students are coming from the former Taft and Van Buren areas.

The campus is one of four new schools in the district.

In 2019, voters in the district approved a $130 million bond issue consolidating seven schools into four new buildings. The four include Groves Primary School located where the former Groves Elementary was located on Cleveland Avenue, Port Neches Primary School located at the site of the former Ridgewood campus on Merriman Street, Groves Intermediate and Port Neches Intermediate located at the site of the former Woodcrest campus on Heisler Street.

PNGISD Deputy Superintendent Julie Gauthier said school construction is complete at the intermediate campuses with contractors going over a punch list, and the primary schools are completing the final steps before the teachers move in.