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Northampton stands behind school district mascot, Konkrete Kids

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:51:49 AM EST   Updated On: Sep 20 2013 01:24:29 PM EDT

If it's up to Joseph Kovalchik the nickname Konkrete Kids isn't going anywhere. And according to him, alumni from around the nation and from different generations don't want it to go anywhere either.

Appearing before the Northampton Borough Council on Thursday night to update members of the progress of the middle school and addressing traffic issues at Siegfried Elementary School, the district's superintendent responded to a question from Councilman Ed Pany concerning feedback he received from the school's graduates and friends.

"I have worked on the "Konkrete Kids" issue for eight days straight, at least eight or nine hours a day," said Kovalchik. "Part of that is responding to the overwhelming support of past alumni, and from people who are not past alumni. People who have graduated in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and all the way to the present time, I have received emails and phone calls from people living in Texas, Ohio, Florida, California, Oregon, New York, and I can go on and on and on. I would say 99 percent of the people that have contacted me have been nothing than supportive. They've offered to drive here from those places I have mentioned and have offered to do what is ever necessary to protect Konkrete Kid heritage and the Konkrete Kid name."

The school's name came under fire in a September 10th article published in The Morning Call newspaper, reporting that an individual had brought forth an online petition to change the school's name, citing charges of racism and ties inherent in the name to the Klu Klux Klan.

The superintendent added Thursday night that it was important to "educate those people who do not understand" as to where the nickname comes and for what it stands.

"I took offense (to the petition) personally," Kovalchik added. "As superintendent of schools because I know how good our school district is and I took offense as a resident, due to the fact that my father and other relatives spent countless hours and years working in the cement industry to basically allow me to be in the place I am today."

Pany then took up the cause, recalling a story from earlier in the day when he had phoned the senior high school and was greeted with the following greeting from the secretary.

"Northampton Senior High School - Home of the Konkrete Kids."

The emotional and fervent discussion ended there and also concluded an hour-long presentation by Kovalchik and district officials of which two salient pieces of news transpired.

First was that the council voted to make the 1600 block of Lincoln Avenue a one-way street running north for 45 minutes during the morning when students arrive for classes and to shut off the block entirely between 2:45 and 3:30 p.m. when students are dismissed.

The issue arose because of a litany of parents who are creating traffic congestion when dropping off students in the morning and picking them up after school.  Parents who wish to continue dropping off or picking up their children will now be allowed to park on either side of the building for up to 10 minutes to do so. Residents of the block across the street from the school will be allowed to leave during the afternoon time period, but will not be allowed to come in.

The changes are scheduled to take effect October 7th, according to Kovalchik.

In other business, the superintendent updated council members on the progress of the middle school construction, which he said is slightly ahead of schedule. The 272,000 square foot facility is slated to be completed by June 2015, with the demolition of the current middle school set to take place during the 2015-2016 school year.

In addition the board voted to keep October 31st as Trick-or-Treat night.