Arbor Grove Elementary Principal Brenda Davis has been busy in the week since the new school opened, but for Davis and the rest of the staff and students, a few early-year headaches are well worth it.
When students at Arbor Grove and Putnam City Schools went back to school this year, the building was finished, but some furniture and other items weren’t in place. The school’s playgrounds and soccer field aren’t finished yet. But what has been available for use is getting rave reviews.
“Every time they reveal another piece, it’s just like Christmas,” Davis said of the playground equipment.
The new building, at 4711 N Tulsa, features a cavernous media center and a lunch room separated from the gym by a removable wall.
“The acoustic panels help keep the noise down,” Davis said. “We can serve more kids at once, rather than one long line. We have a sound system now, so kids can hear if someone is talking on a microphone. It’s just a fantastic space.”
Prekindergarten and kindergarten classrooms have their own restrooms, eliminating the need for students to leave the room. Several classrooms double as tornado-safe rooms that can accommodate all staff and students in the event of an emergency.
The new restrooms solve an old problem.
“We have a lot of them,” Davis said. “With the older buildings, they didn’t build as many bathrooms because of the expense. Previously, we had boys bathrooms upstairs and girls downstairs for fifth-graders. Now they don’t have to walk far.”
There is added parking, which makes it easier for parents to drop off and pick up their kids or visit the school for parent-teacher conferences or other school events.
“In the old building, parents had to park at one end of the building and walk quite a ways to get where they need to be,” Davis said. “Now they can park right outside the gym and come in for events.”
Progress every day
The new building also is getting positive reviews from teachers. Alisha Caesar taught in the old Arbor Grove and has noted the improved conditions at the new building.
“It’s been a great experience for everyone so far,” Caesar said. “There is a lot more room for kids. The technology has been very nice. We had smart boards in the old school, but they were on carts and were always in the way.”
Davis said there will be growing pains, but they are part of the process of adjusting to a new building.
“It has already solved a lot of the challenges we had to deal with,” she said. “We’re seeing progress every day with the little things that need to be done. This building is all about flexibility.”