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Williamsville students meet with district leaders over divisive relaunch plan

Mike Desmond / WBFO News
District leaders, including Acting Schools Superintedent John McKenna (l) and School Board President Teresa Leatherbarrow, have been scrutinized for Williamsville reopening plan.

The long and winding road returning to the classroom in Williamsville is becoming clearer, although still long. On Wednesday, students met with Acting Superintendent John McKenna.

There has been mass confusion for weeks about whether Williamsville Central Schools students will be back in the classroom. The resulting tangle and remote classes for some cost Scott Martzloff his post as superintendent.

For weeks, district administrators have been trying to develop a plan to get students who want to be in a classroom - even for a few days a week - back into the classroom. On Wednesday, some students met with McKenna to explain the new plan calling for high school students to return to hybrid classrooms Oct. 26.

Williamsville East student Vice President Ben Terhaar wants to be a college pre-med student and said student leaders aren't happy about the new plan, but it tells them where they stand. Among all students, opinion is divided.

"Some people have really made the most of it and there's some people that didn't make the most of it," Terhaar said. "But when it comes to senior year, is missing out. We missed out on the junior prom last year. We're missing out on homecoming this year. But once we get back in the classroom and as long as you really have been trying to make the most of what we've been given, I believe you can really still end up high school on a positive note."

Although, remote labs are difficult.

"We'll work through them with him, just virtually," he said. "For my anatomy class, that one definitely has been really tough, because normally in anatomy we do a lot of dissection. That's obviously not able to happen when you're not in the classroom. So I would say out of all the classes, anatomy and biology are probably the two hardest classes to try to replicate outside of the classes."

Terhaar said economic disparities are becoming clearer, with some families able to get special help for their kids in the college application process.

"We do excel in education in Williamsville, but when it comes to the application process, it's a very difficult and trying time," he said, "and having that Guidance Department there, in your school, when you're in person, it just can't be replicated online and a lot of students have been able to actually get past that with families that pay for the college advising."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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