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If you build it, they will come: St. Henry's set to open preschool for 2017-18 school year

The new St. Henry's Preschool will be located just across Third Avenue. Kaysey Price/Forum News Service1 / 2
St. Henry's School is set to expand its curriculum to include a preschool, which will be located across the street. Kaysey Price/Forum News Service2 / 2

The prayers for a new preschool at St. Henry's parish have been answered.

After much planning and research, the right location for a preschool just fell into place, with the Shoeneberger building, located just across Third Avenue from the St. Henry's School, becoming available.

"This happened to come along, and we decided to jump on it," said the new St. Henry's Preschool Teacher Samantha Welter.

The building is currently under construction, being remodeled to fit the needs of the kiddos. Some changes in the works include a room designated to the preschoolers, up to code and ready to roll come the 2017-18 school year.

When all is said and done, the building will feature a controlled drop-off on the west side, and the east lawn will feature a fenced-in playground for optimal safe and fun outdoor play time.

The entire project is expected to cost roughly $400,000.

"(The preschool) is one of those things we talked about over the last few years especially, and we wanted to establish it before we get our new school," said Welter, referring to the next St. Henry's building project on the books, a new school, which will allow them to expand from a K-6 building to a K-8 building.

The new school is estimated to cost $7,632,000 but hasn't broke ground yet.

For now, St. Henry's is focusing on their growing group of little learners.

Welter is anxiously awaiting the chance to get into her new classroom and begin designing her curriculum for the new preschool.

"Everything should be coming together soon," said Welter.

She said they will do preschool sections, with two half days set aside for three year olds, three half days for four and five year olds, and five half days for children going into kindergarten.

"I would like to get the five year olds in the afternoons to go to, like, at least once a month go to the benediction mass, which is about 45 minutes, and then they can get incorporated with that aspect before they hit kindergarten," Welter said, already planning before the walls of the preschool have even seen paint.

She added that she'd like to also create programs to incorporate the little ones with the bigger school. Even though they will be across the street, she'd like to see them getting comfortable at the K-6 building, another bonus to the new preschool.

"It's not like we don't have preschools in the area, but we'd like to start them out a little earlier in our program," said Welter. "They'll know how we work here a little bit more, a little earlier on." Right now, the preschool has about nine total preschoolers registered, a few in each section, but they're hoping to increase that number to nine per section.

Welter says to register a student, parents or guardians can call or stop by the St. Henry's School office. (Mornings usually work best). Or another good resource is the St. Henry's school website, www.sthenrysareaschool.webs.com.

Eventually, Welter says she'd like to expand the programming at the new preschool to include a daycare center, though that may be a number of years down the road. For now, she's got her hands full preparing for the students, though it's a welcome change after working as the sixth grade teacher at St. Henry's the last couple of years.

"I really love this age," said Welter. "I love the growth that they go through, the love of learning."

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