Cherryvale Elementary is a non-vocational, public school in District 2 that teaches primary grades of preschool through 5th grade and is also a Title I school. Sitting amongst the residential section on the urban fringe of the mid-size city of Sumter,, Cherryvale has all the appeal of a small-town, country school with the advantages of a city within a fifteen-minute drive.
A Brief Overview
The enrollment of Cherryvale is currently 490 with an average of 67 students per grade (grades are divided into 3 or 4 classes depending on the amount of students enrolled for that grade). The ratio of teacher to student is 16:1 which allows for smaller classrooms and more one-on-one attention. Cherryvale is 70% African-American, 28% Caucasian and the remaining 2% is classified as “other.” The male to female ratio is male 57% and female 43%.
Currently Cherryvale has an open-door policy for parents but there is a sign-in sheet and all parents or volunteers must visit the office first. In fact, all other doors are locked for the children’s safety and visitors can only enter near the office. Their security is good, there is no actual security staff employed but teachers and those in the office will not let anyone sign a child out unless they are on the emergency contact list. Each classroom has a telephone and a television and each grade/class has a homework hotline for parents. Volunteers are encouraged and PTA meetings are held regularly. There is always a nurse on staff and always someone in the office. Cherryvale adheres to the Free-Reduced Lunch Program and just this year it has adopted Free Breakfasts for everyone regardless of income level or their status on the Free-Reduced Lunch Program.
Love for the Community
Cherryvale is a very caring school that is attuned to the needs of its students and others. Recently, the school set up “Operation Falcon’s Nest” in an effort to help out the victims of the hurricane devastation in Louisiana. The Falcon is the school mascot and the “falcon’s nest” was a large nest constructed and placed in the all-purpose room. Each child was given an Easter egg and was encouraged to collect change to place in the egg. At the end of the week every class ventured into the all-purpose room and dropped their egg in the nest. All totaled, the amount was a little over $1,000.
The principal, Deloris Ardis, also has a “no child will go hungry” policy. Any child that is on a Paid or Reduced level for lunch should pay by the 1st of the month. However, if payment is not received lunch is not withheld from that child. Ms. Ardis understands that life gets ahead of us and sometimes a parent is not able to pay until later or payment slips the mind of the parent.
Parents As Part of the Educational Process
Parents are also brought into the educational experience by being offered the Parent Resource Room. This is an excellent room that is managed by the Parent Coordinator and has excellent resources and materials for parents to educate themselves about parenting and children as well as activities to take home for their children. Parents are also encouraged to come into the library and check out books to read to their children. Homework sheets are sent home so that parents can have an understanding of what their children need to be working on and there is a homework hotline that can be reached any time. Parents are also encouraged to attend PTA when their child is selected to do a small performance at the start of the meeting. Cherryvale also keeps parents informed with a Student Calendar/Handbook, a monthly newsletter, a marquee outside the school and various notes that are sent home with the student.
A Red Carpet School
Cherryvale’s assets are many and the prof of this is that Cherryvale has earned the “Red Carpet Award” for being family-friendly and having excellent customer services. The office employees are always informative and very helpful and will go the extra mile to help a parent. It is always easy to reach someone in the office and messages are always delivered. There is adequate parking and the drop-off/pick-up area is sufficient and at the front door of the school so that children do not have to cross traffic or a parking lot to enter the school. There are crossing guards at all the points where a child walking to school will need to cross.
After-School and Extra-Curricular
The main area that Cherryvale tends to be lacking in is after-school programs or activities. There is a Choir program for 3rd through 5th graders and practice is taken place after school. The choir students will be singing for different concerts and at the Christmas Program. The Christmas Program is an excellent play with singing that is put on each year and usually held at a different place in the community instead of at the school. Cherryvale is also proud of its “Multiplication War” that the 3rd graders are involved in. It is a sort of Spelling Bee but with multiplication and not words. Cherryvale has been the district winner for several years in a row.
However, there is no after-school care for students whose parents work late. There is only one Day Care in the area that will pick up students but it is small and enrollment is limited. The school itself also will not drop any student off at a day care of after-school program within the city limits. There is also a Community Center in the Cherryvale area that has an after-school program but they do not pick up students and the school does not drop them off.
A Cherryvale Parent
As a Cherryvale Parent I am very pleased with what my children are doing and with the school overall but I would like to see some sort of after-school program put in place. It is hard for my husband to schedule his college classes around our children’s school. In the morning drop-off there is not always a teacher outside to ensure the children get in safely and the websites could be updated and include more information.