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Clarendon Hills Middle School, HMS students adjust well to split schedule on first day

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By all accounts, the first day of a split school day at Clarendon Hills Middle School has been going well.

“We’re very pleased with the attendance of our students today,” said CHMS Principal Griffin Sonntag. “We probably had fewer students absent than usual.”

Sonntag gave kudos to the Clarendon Hills Police Department for controlling traffic in front of the school while parents dropped of their children Thursday morning for school and returned to pick them up.

“We had a small problem with people starting to come to drop off their kids early, so we started putting cars on Oxford Avenue and bringing them over from there for drop off,” said Police Chief Ted Jenkins. “Most of the parents were very patient and had a great attitude about helping to make this work. The first day always if the toughest because it’s new for everyone. And the most difficult time is when some kids are being picked up and others dropped off.”

Heidi Keeling was very patient while waiting outside of CHMS to pick up her son, William.

“The principal set a great tone; he said we all needed to pull together as a community, and I think that is important,” Keeling said. “It’s a temporary situation.”

Keeling said her son didn’t have to wake up any earlier Thursday for school, despite starting at 7 a.m., instead of the usual start time of 7:55 a.m.

“He’s an early bird; he gets up earlier than I’d like, about 5:45, so it didn’t change anything for him,” she said.

CHMS sixth-grader Evan Pines said he enjoyed the split day schedule more than the typical school day.

“We get more time after school to be with friends,” he said. “Classes were a little shorter, but not really that different.”

Lily Jones, an HMS eighth-grader, said coming to CHMS Thursday for school worked out well.

“Actually, it was really good because it was well planned,” she said. “It was a little weird being here for school because I’m not used to it, but it will get easier. We did get some work done in classes.”

Dina Howell, whose son, Brennan, is an eighth-grader at HMS, was at CHMS Thursday to pick up her son.

“Clearly, there’s not going to be the same amount of class time as there normally would be, but I’m glad they’re doing it this way, instead of extending the school year,” Howell said.

All HMS students started the school day in the CHMS gym for a brief welcome to the building and instructions for finding their way around.

“It really did go very well,” HMS Principal Ruben Pena said. “It sounds corny to say, but our kids really responded here like it was their own building.”

Pena didn’t have specific attendance numbers immediately available, but said it appeared that attendance of HMS studentsThursday at CHMS was strong.

The Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Board decided Tuesday to go ahead with the split schedule while work to clean up mold at Hinsdale Middle School was being completed. HMS students had been out of school since Jan. 17.

The split schedule has CHMS students in school from 7-11:30 a.m. and HMS students in class at CHMS from noon to 4:30 p.m.

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