As Huntington UFSD makes final preparations for the new school year, J. Taylor Finley Middle School is on the cusp of a new era with a new principal.
Longtime Finley Principal John Amato retired at the end of June and Huntington School Board members appointed Traci Roethel to assume leadership of the school. She had been serving as Woodhull Intermediate School’s principal.
Mrs. Roethel has been at Finley most of the summer, working on the master schedule, interviewing candidates for teaching and paraprofessional positions and becoming more familiar with every nook and cranny around the building. She has met with many staff members who stopped by during the vacation period.
A parent/student orientation is scheduled for Thursday (August 29). The seventh grade orientation is set for 9-11 a.m. with the session for eighth graders running from 12-2 p.m.
Finley’s library has been somewhat reconfigured with the removal of three sets of bookcases and the placement of more tables and chairs. More changes are coming to the library, but they will take time to unfold.
Finley’s main lobby, also popularly known as the Blue Zone, has been opened up with the removal of a winding four foot high block wall that ran down the middle of the area as well as the demolition of a large structure behind the wall that was utilized as the school store, which has been relocated elsewhere.
New seating is being added to the Blue Zone with even more to follow. Once complete it is expected to be a popular gathering space for students interested in socializing with each other outside of class.
Finley’s large group instruction (LGI) instruction room, which doubles as an auditorium has been completely renovated. Existing seating, floor tiles and carpeting were removed. The stage was refinished and new tiles, carpeting and 380 blue cushioned seats were installed. New handicapped seating areas were established. The new look is stunning.
Old floor tiles were replaced in 31 Finley classrooms this summer. The new white patterned tiles, which all match, are attractive and have been polished. They enhance the look of each rom.
“Excitement is abounding at Finley with fresh ideas implemented daily and new looks throughout the building,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “Mrs. Roethel’s energy enthusiasm in a new place (and the same possessed by school staff) is infectious. Students and their families should anticipate a great year ahead!”
About 700 seventh and eighth graders are expected to fill Finley’s classrooms next Wednesday. Teachers will be ready to go with lessons within minutes of the opening bell. Fall athletic teams will begin practicing next week and the club program will be up and running in short order.
Building upgrades will continue next summer when all student lockers are scheduled to be replaced.