Student shuffle

Parents and pupils at Bennett, Taft and Harding elementary schools prepare for the switch.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sixth-grader David Bresko walked through Bennett Elementary School and liked most of what he saw.
But he still wished he was back at Taft Elementary.
"I'm attached to the old school," David said Thursday afternoon as he toured Bennett Elementary with his parents and kindergarten sister.
"I'll miss it."
In a complex game of musical chairs, David and about 320 other students of Taft Elementary will go about 10 blocks north and attend Bennett Elementary for the next two years, beginning Tuesday when classes for the new school year start.
That will give the school district time to demolish the old Taft school and build a new school on the same site as part of the district's $182.5 million facilities project.
"I don't like the idea of moving my children for a couple years, but I like the idea that after two years, there will be a new school," said David's mother, Judy.
"The sacrifice for two years is worth it," added his father, David.
The student shuffle doesn't end at Taft.
The nearly 400 children who attend Bennett Elementary will be bused to the former Princeton Junior High School, where they will stay for at least four years.
And about 350 children at Harding Elementary School on the city's North Side will attend classes at the former Jefferson Elementary School in Brier Hill. The old Harding will be demolished and replaced with a new school on the same site.
To lessen confusion
So, in short: Bennett Elementary on Mabel Street is now Taft Elementary; Princeton Junior High School on Hillman Street is now Bennett Elementary; and Jefferson Elementary on Virginia Avenue is now Harding Elementary.
"I'm sure there's going to be some confusion at these three schools on that first day of school," said Tony DeNiro, executive director of administrative services.
To lessen confusion, Taft conducted an open house for parents and children Thursday afternoon. Similar events are planned for Bennett and Harding this afternoon.Harding Principal Bev Schuman said she hopes the open house will "reassure and rest any fears that anyone may have."
"This was a large undertaking for the school system," she said about transferring children, teachers, staff, desks, furniture and supplies between buildings. "Between downtown and the custodial staff and the teachers, everybody's pulled together."
Betty Clark, family support officer at Bennett Elementary, said she thinks the transition will be smooth.
"It's a little different for them coming here," she said about Bennett's new location. "It's a bigger building. There's a different way to go everywhere. It's going to be a little hard at first, but they'll get used to it."

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