Back to School: Two new schools open in Green Bay

Fifth-grader Lawrence O'Neil reads a book at the Da Vinci School for the Gifted in Green Bay on Wednesday, August 27, 2014.
Fifth-grader Lawrence O'Neil reads a book at the Da Vinci School for the Gifted in Green Bay on Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

GREEN BAY - Parents have more options has students head back to school.

Two new public schools are opening in Green Bay. The district says the new buildings will help different groups of children: Students who need more of a challenge, and students who a little need help overcoming life's challenges.

Fifth grader Lawrence O'Neil can't wait to hit the books.

"I really like literacy. Reading is really one of my passions,” said O’Neil.

O'Neil and his family walked the halls of his new school building: The Leonardo Da Vinci School for the Gifted.

“It's going to be so great. We've seen it from the ground up. We were here last October and it looked completely different,” said his mother, Jan O’Neil.

The program for gifted students outgrew its space at Langlade Elementary. Enrollment is up to 281 students at this building on South Monroe. Principal Tammy Van Dyke says the program helps keep kids on task.

“Sometimes students who can learn at a faster rate and need a little more depth, need a little more challenge can get frustrated in a regular classroom. So this allows them to learn as much as they can in a year as well,” said Van Dyke.

Da Vinci is just one of two new schools in town. The Dr. Rosa Minoka-Hill School held a ribbon cutting Wednesday.

"Where we can bring all students together for unique programs as well. We're really excited to house them in Downtown Green Bay,” said Superintendent of Schools Michelle Langenfeld.

Minoka-Hill School will help students with mental health, behavior, or discipline issues. Children will only attend Minoka-Hill while they get back on the right track. Then they'll return to their other schools.

The Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill School will be housed in what used to be the old Job Center building on Roosevelt Street. Educators say it's the perfect location for these types of programs.

The students in alternative programs used to go to class at scattered locations throughout the district. The Director of Special Education Claudia Henrickson says having a building to call their own may help at-risk students stay in school.

“They have one counselor, they have one social worker. We have a building that we can do with it what we will. It looks like a school. It feels like a school,” said Henrickson.

Teachers at both schools say each child has a unique way of learning, and they hope to reach every student better in these new surroundings.

The Da Vinci school project cost $4.4 million of school district money and private donations. The district purchased the building for the Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill School for $400 thousand.