As they stood outside of a new school building Monday, Judith P. Hoyer Montessori second-graders Imani Hayes and Shylah King, both 7, instantly locked eyes with a familiar face walking through the door.
“Ms. Sanchez,” they both screamed as they ran to hug their pre-kindergarten teacher Sylvia Sanchez, who is part of a staff that hopes to see students like King of Hyattsville and Hayes of Landover continue to the eighth grade inside the school’s new building — the former Oakcrest Elementary School in Landover.
“It’s exciting as we’re trying to build the school community to include the older grades,” Sanchez said of Hoyer, which currently ends at sixth grade. “It’s a new beginning.”
Hoyer’s relocation from its building at 2300 Belleview Ave. in Cheverly to Oakcrest is a step in the right direction for parents who want the school expansion of Hoyer to the seventh and eighth grades like Lanham’s Robert Goddard Montessori, where Hoyer students currently transfer to after the sixth grade.
New principal Tracey Spivey White, who replaced Lynnette Whitt after she retired at the end of the 2011-12 school year, said she hopes to expand to those grades by the 2015-16 school year.
First-grader Chinwe Anagbogu, 6, of Springdale said while she had “lots of fun” in the Cheverly building, the new building “looks great.” The new building has a capacity of 450 students, compared to 160 at the Cheverly location. Chinwe is one of approximately 200 Hoyer students.
“There’s new people who’s going to work here and I’m going to be so excited to meet them,” Chinwe said.
Parent Melissa Ricks of Bowie toured the building during an orientation Thursday and said the new building should accommodate Hoyer’s existing theater program and is excited that there will be a separate media center rather than a shared space with a multipurpose room in the Cheverly location. Ricks’ son Elijah, 11, is entering the fifth grade and daughter, Jadah, 8, is entering third grade.
“I’ve been a part of rallying for the expansion,” Ricks said. “We fought for a long time to get this building to expand to eighth grade.”
For a new location, Spivey White said the first day was “smooth” and most of the parents knew where to go. As the clock rolled closer to 9 a.m., she began to tell parents it was now “kiss and ride” time so students could begin the school day.
“I’ve been up since 3:30 a.m.,” Spivey White said with a smile. “I feel like a student on the first day as well.”