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Students, faculty at Sanibel school mark last day of year

By Staff | Jun 4, 2019

TIFFANY REPECKI Students head for the entrance of The Sanibel School after the dismissal bell rings on the last day of school on May 30.

The Sanibel School had its last day of school on May 30 as classes let out for the summer.

“It went very fast,” Principal Chuck Vilardi said of the school year.

Approximately 275 students in kindergarten to eighth grade were enrolled for 2018-2019.

It was about 20 less students than the prior year.

“We’re continuing to go in a downward trend because families are leaving the islands,” he said, explaining that it is costly for families to live on the islands.

TIFFANY REPECKI As is tradition, faculty and staff at The Sanibel School wave goodbye to the bus riders as they depart on the last day of school on May 30.

Vilardi explained that to curb the enrollment decline, a parent team is working to educate and inform island employees about a program that allows them to apply for a waiver for their child.

“To promote families coming to the island and going to school here,” he said.

As is tradition, the last day of school kicked off with the Talent Show.

“It went really really well,” Vilardi said, adding that one student played the bass, an elementary group formed a rock band, others did gymnastics, one youth did a comedy act and there was a dance team.

“There was at least almost 20 acts,” he said.

TIFFANY REPECKI Vehicles lined up in the parent pick-up line at The Sanibel School on last day of school on May 30.

Marking his third year at the school, Vilardi explained that the first round of testing scores recently came out and the students showed a 91 percent proficiency, with most of them earning 4s or 5s.

“So, well above the average range,” he said. “We were highest in the district again on that.”

The remainder of the scores are expected to come out in June.

“We had a lot of community-based field trips,” Vilardi said of the year.

The school expanded upon its STEM program – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – for students. In August, a former Gulf Middle School teacher will join the island school to oversee it.

TIFFANY REPECKI A staffer at The Sanibel School hands out high fives to bus riders before they depart on the last day of school on May 30.

“Lots of robotics, lots of coding,” he said.

The school implemented the STEM program the year before.

“By adding science and STEM, we kind of hit the kids in the middle,” Vilardi said of the section of students not drawn to athletics or arts.

This year the school acquired a new gifted teacher, who has created a new gifted program. He noted that about 20 to 25 students have been tested for the program and nearly all of them made it in.

“So those kids are getting enriched and challenged,” Vilardi said.

TIFFANY REPECKI Parents gather up their children outside of the front entrance to The Sanibel School on the last day of school on May 30.

With the end of the year, the school bid farewell to two long-term employees. Physical education teacher Debra Kridle and art teacher Tylor Stewart each served the school for about 24 years.

“So they’d been here for awhile,” he said.

Looking ahead to the 2019-2020 school year, Vilardi explained that the biggest change is going to be having one – not two – teachers for the kindergarten, first and second grades due to fewer students.

He noted that the Lee County School District will provide additional support if needed.

“Our priorities and goal are to maintain our strong academic programs and to maintain our elective programs that we are so proud of,” Vilardi said.

Another change for next year is Spanish will be taught online through the Lee Virtual School.

“All kids will be required to take that,” he said, noting that taking an online course also helps the students get a feel for what many colleges offer now. “If it goes well, we’ll continue with it.”

With the new STEM teacher coming on board over the summer, the STEM program will be a requirement for the elementary students and an elective for the middle-schoolers next year.

“Also, next year we really want to continue our leadership program,” Vilardi said.

The school also plans to build up its parent volunteer program.

“That will be ramped up for next year,” he said.

Lee County Public Schools will resume on Aug. 12.

For more information about the island school, visit sbl.leeschools.net.

The Sanibel School is at 3840 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel.