The building addition at Lake Marion Elementary was completed in time for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The addition brings ten new classrooms, conference rooms, collaborative working spaces, and new student and staff bathrooms to the school.
Hybrid Learning students in Learning Group A were the first to settle into their new fourth and fifth grade classrooms on Monday, September 14, 2020. Learning Group B students followed on their first in-person day on Thursday, September 17. As students rounded the corner into their new fourth and fifth grade wing on the first days of school, there were gasps of excitement as they saw their new space.
“Dude! Look at these bathrooms!” and “It all looks so nice!” were some of the common exclamations heard from students as they found their way to their classrooms on the first day.
“We’re super excited that we finally have space,” said Lake Marion Elementary principal, Bret Domstrand. “The last three years as we’ve been increasing our enrollment we were just running out of room for students. So to be able to have ten classroom spaces to not only meet our need now, but to also give us some space for the next few years to grow into, it really alleviates some of the pressure I feel as a principal to make sure we can meet the needs of all of our students,” said Domstrand.
The addition includes many helpful features for students and staff including new furniture, hidden classroom functions and features, microphones for teachers, and audio-visual technology.
“Some of the things we really like are flexible seating desks,” said 4th grade teacher, Kyle Griffin. “It’s going to give students the opportunity to work in an environment that’s conducive to learning for them,” said Griffin.
“We’ve got some stand-up desks in here. The students can either sit on a higher chair or move the chair out of the way and stand up while they work throughout the day,” added 4th grade teacher Melissa Cervantes about the furniture. “We also have some lower tables where the students can sit on a chair that wobbles a little bit so they can get their wiggles out while staying seated,” said Cervantes.
“The tables are on wheels, which we look forward to eventually use to easily rearrange furniture to allow students to collaborate, join together, and have more breakout groups,” said 5th grade teacher Janaya Munsch.
The new classrooms have a lot more whiteboard space than other classrooms. The entire back wall of the rooms is one giant whiteboard that also has a hidden feature. The back wall is a retractable wall that can open up to join two classrooms together. When students can safely join together in larger groups post-pandemic, this will allow more collaboration between students from different classrooms.
Teachers now have microphones that can amplify their voices through their projectors and audio systems built into the room. Teachers wear the microphone around their neck and can easily mute and un-mute it as needed.
“It’s a little more clear for students and we [teachers] are really appreciating that with masks right now,” said Munsch.
“When I first walked in, I was amazed,” said one student about her new classroom.
“I like that the chairs wobble,” said another student.
“I like the new floors in the hallway,” said a third student.
The new features don’t stop at the new fourth and fifth grade wing of Lake Marion Elementary. The entire school received a makeover over the summer.
“We had our whole building mostly remodeled. We updated our bathrooms. We changed our flooring from the carpet to the tile. The kids are just like ‘Whoa! Look at what my old room looks like.’ They are pausing. They are stopping. They can’t believe their school changed over the summer,” said principal Domstrand.
“We want to thank the school board, our community, the District staff who helped coordinate and plan the addition, Loeffler Construction, Atmosphere Commercial Interiors, and all of our partners and subcontractors who made this happen,” said Domstrand. “The smiles from the kids and the feedback we’ve received from parents have been tremendous. They are thrilled to see that we were able to get this done. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without everyone coming together in a partnership to make it happen,” said Domstrand.