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While most schools have been fairly dormant over the summer, that hasn’t been the case for Aspen Elementary School.
From the very start of the summer break, the school has been a hive of activity as construction work began on building the school’s new design and school officials worked toward making the return to school as normal as possible for students.
This year, students will be bypassing the actual school for a campus of modular buildings parked in the back. According to Aspen School Principal Katherine Vandenkieboom, all the teachers are nearly settled, and the portable classrooms are all set up.
“We’ve had some really great help, and now it’s just a matter of figuring out where the furniture goes."
While the first day of school is Wednesday. Another important date parents need to keep in mind is Tuesday. That’s the day Vandenkieboom will have posted each student’s homeroom assignment. This year, because of the construction, the assignments will be posted on the construction gate in front of the school, which is at the corner of 33rd Street and Villa.
On Wednesday, and pretty much until construction is complete in 2015, access to the temporary campus will happen through a pathway on the north side of the building. The pathway starts in the parking lot at 33rd and Villa and continues all the way to the main campus.
“For bus riders, this is going to feel like it always has,” Vandenkieboom said. “They’ve always gotten off the bus and walked along the north side of the building to the playground. I think the thing that’s going to feel different for parents is that the walk is going to be just a little bit longer, because we don’t have any parking near the portable campus.”
Members of the Aspen Parent Teacher Organization will also be on hand Wednesday to direct people to the back of the campus where the portables are.
About that playground, Vandenkieboom added that recess may seem a little bit different, maybe a little “cramped” at first, but the times will remain the same. There will still be three recesses in the morning as well as three at lunch, she said.
“We are probably going to have to adjust some things after a while, but we are going to have to figure out what it feels like at first,” Vandenkieboom said.
They are prepared though, having purchased a special kit of stencils that will allow them to set up games of hopscotch, four square and other playground games where needed. Recess will be taking place at the basketball courts and where the play structures are.
“We are contemplating using our asphalt walkways as a track so we will still be able to continue our running and walking programs,” she said.
Jaynes Construction is the company in charge of the project, and construction will likely be continuing until 2015.
According to site superintendent Sam Burns, things are off to a good start. However, during the first week or so anyway, he said they are going to keep construction activity to a minimum until the kids are settled in and adjusted.
“We’re going to keep it pretty small,” he said. “We are not going to have too much action going on; we’re going to make sure things go smoothly for the first week.”
“Once we get moved in and begin, school is school,” Vandenkieboom said. “Whether it’s in a portable or a classroom, school is really just about a teacher and a student. We’re going to make sure that happens.”