West Seattle back-to-school: Ribboncutting this afternoon at Fairmount Park Elementary; take a closer look now

(Renovated hallway in original FPES building. WSB photos by Tracy Record)
In about four hours, on the day before classes begin for 2014-2015, Seattle Public Schools‘ new acting superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland will be in West Seattle. He’ll join in a ribboncutting ceremony at newly expanded/renovated Fairmount Park Elementary School (3800 SW Findlay; map), reopening after a seven-year closure. We showed you photos of the completed overhaul two weeks ago (thanks again, Joe!). Then last week, we had the chance for a guided walkthrough with SPS construction-project manager Jeanette Imanishi (whom we last met for a walkthrough at the renovated Boren Building two years ago, before K-5 STEM opened there). Both the old building and the new wing to its east are full of light and color, whether you look up at the colored glass letting light into a stairwell:

Or across the courtyard, at new tile accents outside (replacing old panels that contained asbestos, which was removed from other features of the old building too, including its floors):

Or down, at the refinished gym floor, where equipment awaits the students:

The gym also sports a water-bottle filler:

Updated technology touches are everywhere – note these outlets dangling from the ceiling:

Here’s the wider view – they’re meant to enable the upper-grade students to gather around portable/movable equipment, to collaborate flexibly:

There’s wireless Internet, thanks in no small part to this big collection of wiring/routing/etc.:

The classrooms do not have smartboards, but could be converted later. For now, they have close-range projectors:

On now to the computer lab (where headsets were being removed from pesky plastic packaging, one by one), full of Dell desktop setups:

It also holds a lockable cart capable of holding 30 iPads and charging them all at once:

The classrooms all have digital-display clocks with intercom speakers (and each teacher has access to a voice-amplification system for her/his own classroom, with wall-mounted controls):

More tech means more electricity, and that meant a new transformer. Other infrastructure updates included new boilers and other energy-efficiency touches, so doors here and there open to show lots of shiny new piping and equipment, like this:

But the school isn’t entirely electronic/digital. Even in the Internet age, school libraries are full of hard-copy books – these had just arrived the day before our tour:

A student might find a cozy place to sit and read in this commons area, with stepped seating …

It’s one of many areas with “tackable” walls, Imanishi points out, places for students’ creations to be displayed – empty now, but not for long!

Also “tackable,” many surfaces in the west-facing “sawtooth” wall on the upper floor of the new wing, which Imanishi describes as her favorite feature:

That’s the southward view; here’s the northward view:

For everything from performing arts to assemblies to two lunch periods, here’s the cafeteria/auditorium and stage:

The steps up to the stage are new:

There’s also a new lift for wheelchair users (or anyone else for whom it would be helpful) to get onto the stage:

That’s one of many accessibility-enabling upgrades, including an elevator for the classroom buildings. The auditorium’s backstage area, by the way, is accessible directly from the music room, one of 2 classrooms created in an area that used to be a covered playcourt:

Here’s the cheerily painted teachers’ lounge:

Though SPS food isn’t cooked on site, they still need a kitchen for prep – and it has a new automatic dishwasher. Here’s the salad-bar awaiting many lunchtimes to come:

Some students have already been in the building – the Quick Start kindergarten agenda from earlier this month was still visible on a whiteboard during our walkthrough:

Here’s a wider look at a kindergarten classroom:

It has a forested view of the slope to the east – also known as an “environmentally critical area,” around which, Imanishi notes, they had to design the addition carefully:

Just before we left … a school bus on a practice run, visible across the street:

For staff and visitors, parking spaces (meeting district standards – 35 spaces, including two accessible stalls) are off the alley:

And when you stop by the office, say hi to administrative assistant Lori Moore, new to SPS, and administrative secretary Kathy Shelton, a district veteran (she mentioned Lowell and Lincoln as previous stops):

They have been busy for quite some time helping get the school ready to reopen, too – just while we were passing through, they were working on projects including classroom labels. Again, the low-key ribboncutting ceremony is set for this afternoon, with SPS’s new acting superintendent, principal Julie Breidenbach, and others on hand. The school now has capacity for 490 students and is expected to have ~340 when it officially reopens tomorrow. For more background on the expansion (on which Miller Hayashi Architects worked with the district), check out the official district webpage.

P.S. If you’re part of Fairmount Park’s new start, and aren’t already connected with its new PTA, here’s the info-laden website.

14 Replies to "West Seattle back-to-school: Ribboncutting this afternoon at Fairmount Park Elementary; take a closer look now"

  • JeffK September 2, 2014 (11:31 am)

    Wow, looks great. I wish I had gone to a school like this back in the day.

  • JanS September 2, 2014 (12:17 pm)

    I’m a 67 yo grandma…and I think it’s absolutely beautiful. What a great environment for kids to learn in :)

  • evergreen September 2, 2014 (12:55 pm)

    Lucky kids! :)

  • Alice September 2, 2014 (1:22 pm)

    So jealous of this fantastic setup!

  • Leslie September 2, 2014 (1:35 pm)

    I was in the sixth grade when Fairmount Park opened for the first time. What a thrill it was to be in a brand new building after having been in portables. It’s so great to see the school remodeled and upgraded. I know the kids tomorrow will be thrilled too and will remember this year always. Best wishes to everyone at Fairmount Park Elementary.

  • hopey September 2, 2014 (2:01 pm)

    So the ribbon cutting is at 2:30pm? My little one will be a kindergartener there in a few years.

    • WSB September 2, 2014 (2:07 pm)

      2:45 is what I have – it’s in our calendar.

  • sillygoose September 2, 2014 (4:43 pm)

    This is fantastic, glad to see my tax dollars at work, I especially love the hi-tec drinking fountains, wish every building had these.

  • marco September 2, 2014 (6:29 pm)

    School building looks even better in person :)
    Please support the new http://www.fpepta.org/

    Yay first day of school! :p

    • WSB September 2, 2014 (6:57 pm)

      We’ll have video of various parts of this afternoon’s ceremony up separately in a bit, have been processing them. Quite the event!

  • trickycoolj September 2, 2014 (7:02 pm)

    Wow, I want those features where I work! Looks amazing!

  • sam-c September 2, 2014 (8:44 pm)

    beautiful building! kudos to MIller Hayashi and the rest of the project team.

  • third generation west seattleite September 3, 2014 (8:58 am)

    Teachers, staff, students and parents:
    Please remember to be kind and respectful of the surrounding neighbors with your parking, littering and of others property. We need to share the neighborhood and keep it a neighborhood. Some neighbors are not as excited about 340 plus kids, teachers and staff coming into our neighborhoods everyday.
    Thank you for your support.

  • RogTy September 3, 2014 (12:38 pm)

    “Back to School: Then and Now”:


    A 2-minute education in “Progress”!

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