A fresh start: Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 welcomes back students

Social Worker Jackie Schramm welcomes students back in the renovated library learning center at Johnson Elementary School Wednesday August 16, 2023 in Warrenville.

Another school year began Wednesday as so many often do for kids in Wheaton and Warrenville.

After the lazy days of summer, households set their morning alarms a little earlier. Parents hugged their children a little tighter. And school buses headed back on the road.

But the first day of classes arrived in Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 with a sense of new beginnings.

On an opening day with blue skies and temperatures in the 70s, students in new sneakers enjoyed new playgrounds at Bower and Lowell elementary schools.

Newly renovated library learning centers greeted students at Johnson and Whittier elementary schools.

Superintendent Jeff Schuler toured the inviting, sun-filled space as Johnson students explored new reading nooks, small group areas designed to foster collaboration and book cases built to their height.

Whittier students pointed out all “the things they love” about the remodeled library, Principal Robert Cerny said.

“That just builds their enthusiasm for the new year and learning this year and all the awesome things we know they’re going to do,” Cerny told the school board Wednesday night.

Districtwide, officials invested almost $10 million in facility projects this summer. The library renovations were funded through developer donations associated with new construction in the district, a state grant and the district’s operating fund balance.

“We’re touching more than a third of our schools with all this work,” Assistant Superintendent Brian O’Keeffe said at last month’s board meeting.

Elsewhere, the district completed flooring projects at Hawthorne, Longfellow, and Sandburg elementary schools; roofing projects at Hawthorne and Wheaton North High School; paving and concrete projects at Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South; and replaced ceilings and lighting at Washington Elementary. Lowell Elementary School welcomed back students with a “full revamp of its HVAC system and a lot of its infrastructure,” Schuler said.

The district has students in an early childhood center, 13 elementary schools, four middle schools and two high schools.