Before the doors opened on the first day of school for Jefferson County Students Aug. 16, swarms of Sierra Elementary School students climbed on play equipment, hung from money bars and enjoyed the …
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Before the doors opened on the first day of school for Jefferson County Students Aug. 16, swarms of Sierra Elementary School students climbed on play equipment, hung from monkey bars and enjoyed the schools' new playgrounds.
The two playgrounds, the track, outdoor classroom and parking lot were the final stages to be completed in the schools $16.5 million upgrade that's been years in the making.
Last year, the second phase of the upgrade opened, a two-story, 30-classroom building replaced what Sierra students and staff called “the bunker” — a 1970s era holdover with few windows and lots of defects.
Though the new building opened for students last year, there was no playground and no parking lot. Those were finished this summer just in time for the new school year.
“It has really brought the community and the neighborhood school together,” Assistant Principal Tennille Foerster said of the schools improvements. “I think it has had a positive impact on our school culture. Kids are excited to be here.”
The design for the new addition was based on four principles: safety, security, collaborative learning and space for community involvement. The 50,000 square foot addition increased the school capacity by 250 students and brought improved technology and comfort for students and staff.
“Something we're really proud about is our seating,” said Sydney Beck, instructional coach at Sierra.
Each classroom has non-traditional tables and seating to promote more a collaborative environment and cater to student needs. The flexible seating includes traditional chars, rockers, cantilevers that bounce and hockey stools that wobble. In fourth and fifth grade, there are also high top tables.
Open work spaces in the hallway also add to the collaborative approach.
“When you think about what kids are learning, it's very social,” Beck said. “It's not sitting at a desk independently. It's breaking out and problem solving together. So we feel like by providing these open areas and creative areas they can move out and it meets their needs.”
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