In a word, communication.
That's what helped students, teachers, staff, and parents get through the first five months of a year-long construction project at George A. Smith Middle School.
It's also the lesson principal Paul Gladfelter is taking to Swift Middle School as it starts its own construction project this summer.
With one school construction project well underway, Solanco School District is almost ready to start another.
Work at George A. Smith Middle School is on schedule, said Dr. Timothy J. Shrom, the district's business manager. The project is adding new classrooms and an auditorium to the 35-year-old building. It's also changing how the building is lighted and relocating the main entrance.
Young readers still like books printed on paper.
"Sometimes I read on my Kindle, but not that much," Smith Middle School sixth grader Olivia Northern said earlier this month. "I really like to hold a book and have it in my hands. I'd rather be able to flip real pages instead of doing it on a device."
The world Solanco officials began planning for seven years ago is not the world the district faces today.
Those plans included making Smith Middle School large enough to accommodate all the district's middle school students. Clermont Elementary School could then be expanded into the former Swift Middle School.
Danielle Drumm found what she was looking for.
"I just need to remember to bring money to buy them," the sixth grader said of the books she wanted to buy at Smith Middle School's annual book fair.
When they take to the stage this week, Smith Middle School students will help their audience dig its way through ancient civilizations.
In Dig It!, adventurers Taki (Hannah Hargraves) and Tut (Nicole Kudia) start with an exploration of Ethiopia. There they encounter a skeleton (Sophia Steinhauer) who wakes up and takes them on a journey through the cultures that created the modern world.
There are many opportunities for families and their children in the Solanco community.
Early next week, Smith Middle School will be helping those families connect with organizations that offer a wide range of services and opportunities, assistant principal David Beard said.
Those opportunities range from programs offered by the Southern End Community Association to volunteer opportunities at area non-profits. There are also sports programs for kids who like to play football, basketball, or baseball; dance schools, martial arts, and scouting.
With just a few days until the new school year begins, parents and students in Solanco are getting ready.
Keith Kaufman, spokesman for the school district, said that parents don't need to worry about supplies.
"The district does not require parents to buy supplies. The district provides all items," said Kaufman.
But both Swift and Smith middle schools sent a list of "suggested" items home with students during sixth grade orientation.
"Sixth grade orientation is upstairs and to the left," instructed a seventh grader at Smith Middle School last week.
Perfect instructions if you already know how to find the staircase.
Sixth grade orientation was underway.
Incoming sixth grader Molly Peffer said she is a little nervous about starting middle school.
Her mom, Michelle, already knows the ropes.
Collin Morris and Josh Firlein used the science they learned to set up an ornate combination of tubes, marbles, and dominoes to launch a morsel of food.
A smaller marble rolled through a tube and set off a chain reaction of dominoes. The last domino then knocked out a prop, sending a larger marble through more tubes and into a second set of dominoes. The final domino in that set then helped trigger a plastic spoon that launched the food.
Morris and Firlein were were among a dozen seventh and eighth graders to participate in a two-week middle level Teen Biz Camp at Smith Middle School. The camp wrapped up on Thursday, July 3, when the students put their work on display.
The faculty of George A. Smith Middle School has announced the names of students earning honor roll distinction for the fourth marking period of the 2013-14 school year.
SMITH MIDDLE SCHOOL
Abigail Nelson and Sophie Plechner earned multiple awards at George A. Smith Middle School's end of year ceremonies.
Nelson and Plechner received the Outstanding Student Award and the L.E.A.D. III Award. Plechner also earned the Principal's Leadership Award, the English Award, and the Science Award. Nelson also won the Technology Education Award and the Soroptimist Club Award.
John Little is leaving half of his ideal career.
Little, who has been teaching middle school students for 35 years, will retire at the end of this school year. He will continue to coach Solanco High School's varsity wrestling team.
"I have friends who have retired from teaching and who still coach and they enjoy it," he said.
Retiring from teaching means giving up a job he's enjoyed for more than three decades.
"I have had a dream job," he said. "I enjoy teaching science. I have the greenhouse, the outdoor site, and the [aquarium and terrarium] tanks. I have all it takes right here in this room."
The Eden Township native went to Catholic school for two years, transferring to Solanco in the third grade.
Shortly after that, he met the man who would inspire him.
The faculty of George A. Smith Middle School has announced the names of students earning honor roll distinction for the second marking period of the 2013-14 school year.
Fantasy titles led the list of must-reads at Smith Middle School's book fair.
"The new fantasy books are very popular," reading specialist Emily Ritholz said Thursday, December 19.
Among them are several series of books. Books in the Hunger Games, Diary of A Wimpy Kid, and Maximum Ride series were selling well.
"James Patterson writes the Maximum Ride books and kids really like them," Ritholz said.
A Solanco High School graduate, with help from a group of middle school students, is sending 1,200 Christmas cards to troops serving in the United States and overseas.
Working from August through November, 2013 graduate Jamie Paxton created the colorful cards.
She took extra shifts at work so she could afford to buy the materials she needed to create all of the hand-crafted cards.
While voters were choosing candidates inside Quarryville Borough Hall last week, a group of Smith Middle School students was outside the building planting for the future.
As part of the STREAM (Smith Teaching Respect for the Environment using Alternate Methods), 15 students, mostly eighth graders, spent Tuesday, November 5 learning about the environment. Half the day was dedicated to studying in a Beaver Creek tributary stream. The rest of the day was devoted to planting 75 trees and shrubs.
"A lot of us have coats that are too small."
That doesn't mean those coats should spend the coming winter in a closet, Smith Middle School eighth grader Sophie Plechner said last week. Plechner and other members of the school's Pride Ambassadors are trying to drum up enthusiasm for this year's Coats for Kids campaign.
The annual effort is already underway and has just over two weeks to collect, sort, and clean coats, mittens, gloves, hats, scarves, and sweaters. The winter wear will then be distributed to anyone in the Southern End who needs warm clothing to get through the colder months ahead.