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Back to school: A classroom looms in Wilkes' backyard

The framing of the two-story high gymnasium/commons structure is now under way between the existing Wilkes Elementary School and the new school’s classrooms, which are scheduled to be concluded sometime next summer. - Dennis Anstine/Staff Photo
The framing of the two-story high gymnasium/commons structure is now under way between the existing Wilkes Elementary School and the new school’s classrooms, which are scheduled to be concluded sometime next summer.
— image credit: Dennis Anstine/Staff Photo

In reality, however, many of the students will be quite familiar with the new buildings since they will have watched the project rising on the hill to the west during the 2011-12 school year.

The view, albeit available only through a 10-foot-high cyclone fence, will be a daily sight when school begins next Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, the school plans to make use of it during the next 10 months.

“We’re excited that we’re getting a new school and that it will be happening right in our backyard,” said Wilkes Principal Sheryl Belt. “There will be a clear, safe separation with the fencing, but that won’t stop our teachers from taking advantage of the proximity to use it as a learning tool.”

Belt considers the construction site a perfect “laboratory” for teaching basic math and engineering lessons to students in the school’s upper grades. She said the kids are going to love watching bulldozers move dirt around.

“Our first priority is the childrens’ safety and we’ll make sure the separation occurs at all times,” Belt said. “But there’ll be a lot eyes on what’s happening up there.”

The school is losing a few acres of grassland, which previously was used for soccer matches and open space that allowed children to frolic during recess.

“We’ll miss that for a year,” she said, “but the kids knew it was going to happen so they’ve already moved on.”

Recess play areas will be more limited, but there will be a few places available, including some on blacktop that are covered. There will also be some open sandboxes for the younger children.

Nancy Josephson, who is the school district’s capital projects manager, said the goal is to complete the school’s new buildings next August, with demolition of the existing school beginning in June 2012. Transportation lanes, bus and vehicle parking lots and then landscaping and other site improvements will follow with a goal of completion before school starts.

The project’s first phase includes the current construction of a new gymnasium/commons building located between the existing school and the classrooms planned for the upper area.

Down below, it will be business as usual. Belt said there was very little turnover, with only a new art teacher joining the staff.

“We have some new reading and handwriting curriculum, and some new online assessment for reading and math,” she said. “But we’re pretty stable, which is good.”

BISD’s new certified (1.0 FTE) teachers at Bainbridge High

Holly McIlvaine, Intervention Specialist

Simon Pollack, English/Social Studies

Tamara Sell, Special Education

Esme Weigand, English

Woodward Middle

Rebecca Bjoregen, Special Education

Brennan Moore (0.8 FTE), Math/Science

Sakai Intermediate

Sue Miller, sixth grade Language Arts/Social Studies.

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A reminder: Because of orientation for 9th grade students from 8:40-10:15 a.m. on Wednesday’s first day of BHS classes, students in grades 10-12 will have a two-hour late start. On the first day only, classes will begin at 10:30 a.m. for those in grades 10-12.

Community Events, April 2014

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