PLYMPTON– Principal Peter Veneto, an educator and administrator in his 19th year, proudly showed off the K-6 Dennett Elementary School in Plympton to the Express on Tuesday, Sept. 11.
Veneto, who is beginning his 10th year at the Dennett, said, “This is the smoothest transition we’ve had yet [at the beginning of the school year].” When asked why, he responded, “I think we know what to expect.”
Veneto was once an administrator at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School and an elementary school teacher, before coming to Plympton.
Despite the sylvan, pastoral setting of the school, from the outside the Dennett looks like many schools of its era: a little drab. Nothing could be further from the truth on the inside.
Veneto credited his custodial staff for getting the building into great physical shape over the summer. Floors were buffed, new carpets were installed in some areas and a slight new-paint smell wafted through the air. The gymnasium lobby had also been renovated.
Students quietly filed past in pastel-painted hallways. Teachers, with classes that average just 16 students, according to Veneto, worked in small groups. The only discernable noise at 10 a.m. came from the gymnasium.
With just 26 teaching staff, about 2 classrooms per grade level and such small class sizes, you’d be forgiven from mistaking the Dennett for a charter or private school.
In fact, in some previous years, the Dennett has attracted a few out-of-town students, although this program is no longer in effect.
“Everyone knows everyone here,” said Veneto.
He was also keen to point out the “high-tech” nature of the school.
The school has a 1:1 “device” ratio for grades 2-6, meaning that each second through sixth-grader is assigned a Chromebook (laptop) that stays at school. Younger students use iPads. Almost all classrooms have interactive whiteboards, allowing students and teachers to interact with images and text projected onscreen.
The Dennett also features a computer lab in their spacious library, where activities with 3-D printers and coding take place. Programmable robotic LEGOs were also purchased through the library.
Veneto was also happy to report that the long-awaited water filtration system is in place, and all water at the school is potable. Higher than recommended levels of manganese, a metal, had plagued the school for years, forcing bottled water to be delivered to the school.
Upcoming events include an Instrument Demonstration Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 10 a.m., Picture Day Monday, Sept. 24, and an Early Release Day that same Monday.
The Dennett School Committee meets Monday, Sept. 24, from 5-6 p.m.