(First two photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Before construction starts tomorrow at the new Arbor Heights location of Westside School (WSB sponsor), its students have joined in a unique groundbreaking ceremony.
They traveled to the site at 10400 34th SW – formerly Hillcrest Presbyterian Church – on Tuesday afternoon to tour and celebrate.
It was a field trip, and yet it was also “heading home,” the theme for the year ahead, according to Westside’s head of school Kate Mulligan, who notes it was also the inscription on commemorative T-shirts:
(Photo courtesy Westside School)
The theme honors the fact that the ~330 students and ~60 staff members of Westside will finally have a permanent home.
Before its move to leased Seattle Public Schools property four years ago, Westside was on a leased Highline Public Schools site, but a home of its own was always the plan. It’s been a year and a half since we first reported Westside’s plan to buy and remodel the acre-and-a-half church site; the $2.7 million purchase closed last December, and now a milestone is in view.
As for the remodel/construction details – aside from an addition of four classrooms, Mulligan says it will be “mostly internal,” with little change to the existing footprint.
(File photo of Hillcrest Presbyterian)
She points out that the church was built with classrooms, offices, even a gym, so it doesn’t need much work to be completely transformed into a school. The main sanctuary building will become the three-story “academic wing” of Westside.
The school is not adding classes, Mulligan says – it’s already been engaged in a growth process, stretching to add a middle school whose first 8th-grade class will graduate this year. But they are “continuing to grow our program, especially in performing and visual arts,” she says, as well as their “emphasis on a global-studies program.”
Updated renderings will be made available at a parents’ meeting coming up in about three weeks. The school will be 53,000 square feet with 27 classrooms, plus a gathering space that will hold at least 500 people, among other features.
The church moved out after a final service last month, for which Mulligan was on hand, and is now just a few blocks away, at 2656 SW 104th. The preschool that’s been in the building is staying through the end of May – construction plans will allow them to stay until the end of their school year, she says. (We are checking with the preschool administration for an update on their future plans.)
If all goes as planned, Westside will move in summer 2015, and the 2015-2016 school year will be the first in its new home: “We’re very excited that our permanent home is the Arbor Heights neighborhood of West Seattle; we’re committed to being in this community for a very long time – we’ve gotten tremendous support from the community and we appreciate it.”