Park Elementary excitement builds Parents, students alike can't wait for unveiling

August 11, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

For Park Elementary School parents, students and faculty, the new building standing behind the old one represents the end of a long fight for a better school.

The curious have come, pressing their faces against windows to catch a peek at the new school. A few have sneaked in, only to be shooed away by staff, who put a sign up, telling folks the school isn't open to the public yet.

The opening will occur at 4: 30 p.m. Aug. 27 when a ribbon-cutting will be followed by an open house.

When students return to school Aug. 28, teachers will give them a tour of the $10 million building.

"I'm waiting to see the faces of the kids. That's all," said Principal Diane Lenzi. "I'm going to stand right there," she said, pointing to the front entrance. "And I'm going to see their faces and that's going to make it all worthwhile."

The exterior of the one-story red-brick building, trimmed in sea green and aqua blue, reflects the nautical theme chosen by students and the community. That theme carries over to the cafeteria, where a wave design runs along the bottom of the counter. Cafeteria workers in sailor hats will serve meals.

"We wanted the kids to have a feeling this is theirs. We feel if they believe the school and park belongs to them, they're going to take care of it," said Maria Wertz, vice president of the PTA.

The school, which has an enrollment of 560, is twice as large as the old one, now a pile of rubble that will be hauled away to make room for a parking lot.

The old school had radiators without covers, threadbare carpets in classrooms and a boys bathroom in need of new urinals and floor tile. Parents lobbied school and county officials for seven years for a replacement for the 51-year-old school.

A bit of the old school will be mixed in with the new. Fifty bricks from the old Park will be used in the front sidewalk; a 1952 green slate board will be installed in the faculty lounge; and a display case will hold a 48-star flag and other items from the old school.

The interior of the school carries a southwestern motif chosen by teachers. The 26 classrooms are bright and airy. Each is self-contained with either its own bathroom or one nearby, lockers, telephone, teacher's office, videocassette recorder, computers and doors leading to the playgrounds. Younger students have a separate playground from fourth- ,fifth-and sixth-graders.

"It's going to take some time for them to get familiar. I'm still learning," said Assistant Principal Bernadette Wright.

"It's a logical school. It makes sense," said Lenzi, as she walked through its halls. "The classrooms are pretty much finished, just a few small touches."

Music rooms are soundproof. An art suite, not classroom, as it is called, has a door leading outdoors so students can do landscape drawings and paintings.

A parent liaison at the school, Wertz is one of the lucky ones who has seen the inside. Her son, A. J., 9, and her daughter, Crystal, 8, want to know when they can see it.

Wertz said A. J. is going to love the science lab.

"He loves science. In my mind, I can see him in that science lab enjoying science even more," Wertz said. "He won't have to share a microscope with four other people."

A. J. has watched his mom take photographs and cry as the school, her alma mater, comes down.

"It was kind of hard to watch it go down. I was here when the bulldozer took the first window out and the bricks started falling," said Wertz. "Taking the pictures is kind of a finale for me. I'm kind of glad it's down because it gives this school a chance to live."

Pub Date: 8/11/96

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