Waukesha Hadfield Whittier school merger, fall will be new for everyone

Enrollment at Hadfield Elementary in Waukesha is set to nearly double in the fall after Hadfield and Whittier's merger was approved earlier this year. 

As art teacher Molly Winkler looked around her classroom Wednesday, Aug. 3, the bell served as a reminder of all the work she has to do before welcoming students back on Sept. 1.

"I had two classrooms over at Whittier I had to go through and pack up," said Winkler.

Winkler is among 30 staff members making the move to a new school. 

In March, the school board voted to close Whittier Elementary and merge it with Hadfield because of low enrollment. As a result, Hadfield is getting a big makeover.

"There’s more to it than you might anticipate," said Chino Imediegwu, Generac. "We figured, hey, we’ll pitch in and help."

On Wednesday, 20 Generac employees volunteered to get Hadfield organized.

"We’re really trying to build a whole new school from the ground up, basically," said Mike Elliott, co-principal. 

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Elliott said the district invested nearly $500,000 to upgrade things like the playground and replace the floor.

"I know they added onto the building from what it was before, but we haven't had any major renovations in a long time," said Elliott.

Elliott said total enrollment at Hadfield will increase to about 385 students, a little less than half of them went to Whittier last year.

Some of the changes are symbolic. For example, school colors are going from red to blue.

"The kids and the staff and parents were able to vote on those colors," said Brandy Hart, co-principal. "That’s just one small piece of welcoming everyone."

Hart is also making the move from Whittier. Staff, teachers and even volunteers all recognize this fall will be new for everyone.

"It’s not Hadfield and Whittier anymore," said Winkler. "It’s all one. It’s like, a whole new building for all students."

Hadfield is also letting students vote on a new mascot. They’ll narrow down the top few choices by October.