MUSTANG — The textbooks were on pallets and workers were feverishly hammering and polishing as the Friday opening of Mustang's Canyon Ridge Intermediate School approached.
The $17 million school has been under construction for about a year, the result of a bond issue passed in early 2012. Canyon Ridge will house about 815 students in the fifth and sixth grades.
The building is laid out in a pod system, with a large atrium connecting classroom and activity wings.
There is a large gym with six basketball goals and a cafeteria that doubles as an auditorium.
In the center rotunda, a giant tile compass will help students navigate the building.
“What really catches my attention is the reaction from different people, parents, kids, teachers,” Mustang schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel said Wednesday. “How can you not get excited about it? It's a great place to learn and to come to work every day. We know when people are happy they are positioned to learn better.”
Most of the building's 52 classrooms include smart boards that are the 21st century equivalent of old-fashioned chalk or wipe boards. The dedicated choir room has acoustic paneling and built-in risers.
Flex classrooms are in each pod. Some will be used to teach special needs classes while others will be used for those who are learning English.
Principal Kathy Blackwell expects students, and the 70 teachers and staff members, to enjoy their new home.
“I think there will be a lot of oohing and ahhing,” she said. “We had some kids in for a tour along with their siblings, and some of them said they wished they could go back to fifth or sixth grade. It's just a bright, fun space for kids to learn.”
Blackwell's favorite part is the rotunda. The compass is practical, and in some ways a metaphor for kids as they navigate through fifth and sixth grade.
“I feel like the kids will be able to gather there,” she said. “I picture singing there. I picture kids practicing skits there. It's kind of a celebratory place.”