The new school year in the Lake Washington School District has officially begun and has introduced a few welcomed additions.
Elementary students now have more room to learn this year as two new schools in Redmond recently opened their doors for the first time.
Approved by voters in 2016, Ella Baker Elementary School, located at 9595 Eastridge Dr. NE, and Clara Barton Elementary School, 12101 172nd Ave. NE, are open and provide additional space for 690 students, easing overcrowding in the district.
“We are excited to open these two new elementary schools,” LWSD Superintendent Dr. Jane Stavem, said in a press release. “As the district continues to grow, we are building new schools, expanding opportunities, and improving our existing programs. We value our partnership with parents, families, and the community, as we collectively support all our students.”
The new schools are named after Baker, a Civil Rights leader and mentor, and Barton, a teacher and founder of the American Red Cross. Both women influenced society by dedicating their lives to service — a cornerstone of learning stressed by Baker principal Kim Bilanko and Barton principal Karen Barker.
Each school has centered its core values on developing the whole student as an individual rather than just an academic student.
Baker developed the “Baker Eight” character traits that reflect the school’s values. These include curiosity, integrity, gratitude, embracing diversity, optimism, grit, empathy and self-control.
“We’re really about empowering change makers and global citizens,” Bilanko said. “Through research we’ve found that developing students’ social emotional skills is just as important as developing their academic skills.”
Barton developed its own list of character traits, the “Barton Five,” which include grit, integrity, empathy, self-discipline and embracing diversity.
“This work is based upon the book ‘The Formative Five,’ By Thomas Hoerr. Dr. Hoerr suggests that these five characteristics are the key to success, and our staff will use his book as our foundational text as we strive to have a unified and consistent approach to teaching students leadership and social skills,” Barker said in a PTSA email.
Both schools feature 30 standard classrooms, music, art/science rooms, English language learners (ELL), Safety Net and special education spaces, libraries, a cafeteria/commons, gymnasiums and outdoor covered play areas. In addition to the classrooms, sliding NanaWalls (bi-folding doors) open to shared learning spaces in each classroom wing. The goal is to increase collaboration among students and emphasize project-based learning. SMART interactive boards will take the place of Activboards and allow multiple students and teachers to use a board at the same time.
Both schools are also designed to help preserve the environment. LED occupancy-sensored lights and geothermal temperature control will help cut costs and leave a smaller ecological footprint.
Forrest Miller, director of support services, oversees capital planning, construction and real estate, to ensure school facilities operate optimally to support students and staff.
Miller said the geothermal loops will help keep the buildings running at a comfortable temperature and will help lower costs of artificially heating and cooling. For both projects, recycled materials were used as much as possible, including shelving throughout the libraries and wooden benches crafted with Douglas fir reclaimed from each site.
Baker and Barton are just two of the seven LWSD projects approved in 2016. The upcoming projects includes:A new middle school in Redmond Ridge – scheduled to open in fall 2019.
Rebuilding and enlarging Juanita High School in Kirkland – scheduled to open in fall 2020.
Rebuilding and enlarging Peter Kirk Elementary in Kirkland – scheduled to open in fall 2019.
Rebuilding and enlarging Margaret Mead Elementary in Sammamish – scheduled to open in fall 2019.
Upgrading the Old Redmond Schoolhouse facility for use as preschool classrooms – scheduled to open in 2019.