Students returning to class Wednesday

Hightstown students head back to school amongst building construction and some staff changes.

By: David Pescatore
   HIGHTSTOWN — There will be a vaguely familiar face greeting students arriving for the first day of school at the Ethel McKnight School on Wednesday.
   That face will belong to Gayle Parker, who is returning to the district, after a five-year hiatus in the Branchburg School District, to serve as the new McKnight School principal. Ms. Parker is replacing Martin Barlow, who spent the last 37 years working in the district.
   Classes at the district’s four elementary schools begin Wednesday at 9:05 a.m., the Melvin H. Kreps Middle School will begin its day at 8:25 a.m., and Hightstown High School students will begin their day early, at 7:45 a.m.
   In the district administration office, Interim Superintendent James Sheerin will be joined by Interim Assistant Superintendent Gerald Lysik. Dr. Lysik replaces Gayle Tapper, who left in June to join the Middletown School District.
   Both men are expected to serve until the Board of Education can locate a permanent superintendent. The board hopes to have a person in place by January, after which the new superintendent would be free to hire his own assistant.
   The board is accepting applications now for the superintendent position, and will start interviewing candidates in the fall.
   Dr. Sheerin, in his welcome message on the district’s Web site, addressed the pending construction at each of the district’s schools.
   "The district is progressing and eagerly looking forward to the start in late August/early September of the construction projects…. The coming months will be both challenging and rewarding, requiring patience and understanding of all parties involved. Every effort will be made to minimize as much as possible any disruptions in our instructional programs," the message read.
   Furthermore, there will be no disruption in the parking privileges enjoyed by HHS seniors. Delays in the HHS construction schedule mean that the normal parking lot will be available at the beginning of the school year. Dr. Sheerin has said that alternate parking arrangements would be made in the event that construction should begin later in the year.