Second-graders Amaya Webb and Inayjha Ware weren’t super-thrilled to return to school after winter break, but they found a lot to like about the new Spaght Multimedia Magnet Elementary.
“It’s big,” Amaya said.
“It’s huge,” said Inayjha.
“It’s awesome,” Amaya added, smiling.
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On Wednesday morning, students, teachers and some parents filed into the new school, built adjacent to the old one at 11th and Grove in northeast Wichita. It is one of five new elementary schools being built – and the third to open this school year – as part of a $370 million bond issue approved by voters in 2008.
The new school, designed by Pettit Bullinger Architects, was built for 450 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Conco Inc. was the general contractor.
Teachers spent winter break moving into the new building and getting their classrooms ready. Students and parents had a brief tour of the new building before leaving on break.
The 64,000-square-foot school features a music room, art room, computer lab, expanded library, cafeteria and a gymnasium that doubles as a storm shelter. Later this year, the old school will be demolished to make room for more parking and playground space.
“What’s not to like?” said second-grade teacher Jamie Schiffel.
At the old school, an aging boiler system meant some classrooms were more than 90 degrees while others were chilly, Schiffel said. The heater in her room made such a loud noise, students could barely hear her over the rumbling.
“Just to have this nice, quiet, clean space,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”
The new classrooms also have smart boards, bookshelves and closets with more storage space.
Art teacher Tina Thomas spent much of Wednesday fetching students from their regular classrooms and escorting them to the new art room. Then she played show-and-tell, showing off her room’s sparkling new kiln.
“It’s a huge improvement,” Thomas said. The kiln at the old school was aging and temperamental, she said, and was located across the school from the art room, so she seldom was able to use it. “Now we can do lots more with clay, which I love.”
The new school also has a television studio and control room to support Spaght’s multimedia magnet theme.
Principal Kim Sherfield said Wednesday felt like “another first day of school,” with teachers and students reviewing procedures for hallways, lunch lines and recess.
“We’ll be talking about taking pride in this new building and taking care of it,” she said. “We want this to look nice for a long time.”