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Local school year comes to end

By Staff | Jun 11, 2009

Another school year in Cape Coral, and across Lee County, came to an end Wednesday.
Teachers spent the day packing up their classrooms while students excitedly planned their vacations. Districtwide there are a lot of changes this summer for the Lee County.
A number of Cape principals are retiring or changing assignment within the city. Martin Mesch, principal of Gulf Elementary, is retiring after 30 years of service in the county. He started his career as a guidance counselor at Caloosa Elementary and served as principal of Gulf Elementary for the last 20 years.
Mesch said he has mixed feelings about retiring.
“I’m very close to the community here, I have mixed feelings,” he said. “I want to retire, but it makes me sad to leave the kids and their parents.”
Hector A. Cafferata Elementary Principal Donnie Hopper will transfer to Gulf Elementary and take Mesch’s place as principal.
“He should do very well,” said Mesch.
Leslie Gunderson, assistant principal at Hancock Creek Elementary, will fill the vacant principal position at Hector A. Cafferata Elementary.
For the last day of school, Gulf Elementary hosted a fifth-grade graduation at Ida S. Baker High. It is the largest elementary school in Lee County and graduated 220 students to middle school.
“We had enough seats to accommodate everybody and it was very memorable,” said Mesch.
Eric Cioffi, principal of Mariner High, is leaving the school district for a position in Georgia. Brian Mangan, current principal of Caloosa Elementary, will take his place at Mariner, according to the Lee County School District.
Cape Elementary Principal Toni Sindler is also retiring and Shann Flecha, assistant principal from Tanglewood Elementary, will take her place.
High school seniors graduated over the weekend and will go on to college, the work force or other future endeavors.
Eric McFee, principal at Cape Coral High, said the last day of school went smoothly.
“It went smooth, the only word I can use for today. Kids finished up their final exams and got on the bus and went without any pomp and circumstance,” he said.
Construction projects at Cape Coral High will conclude this summer. First, the cafeteria is being expanded to accommodate more students, and McFee said the outside tent used to house students eating lunch has already been taken down. Boys and girls locker rooms are also under renovation.
Cape High recently created an alumni social networking site that will help keep graduates connected. Recent graduates have signed up for the site as well as alumni from the early 1980s.
Cape High journalism teacher Aaron Smoly agreed that the last day went well and that students and teachers were looking forward to going home.
“There were no surprises,” he said.
The superintendent and school board are working throughout the summer on the school district’s budget. They estimate a budget shortfall between $25 million and $45 million for next year.