New classrooms, upgraded facilities a ‘huge blessing’ at Buchanan School
When classes begin at Buchanan Elementary School this August, students and teachers will walk into 16 new classrooms, new art and music rooms and cafeteria, and a spacious new gym. The addition to the Southwest Side school is part of the $175 million bond approved by Grand Rapids voters in 2015.
Also in the works is renovation of seven classrooms, two computer labs and the media center, new playgrounds, and a new front office and secure school entry, all air-conditioned. The $13.8 million project dramatically upgrades the old neighborhood school, a cultural center that educated about 470 students this year and provides bilingual services to English-language learners.
At an open house celebrating the project’s first phase, Principal Evelyn Ortiz told a group of teachers, students and neighbors the improvements are “a huge blessing” for the school. The addition will increase capacity to about 550 students, allow for two full-day pre-kindergarten classrooms, and provide a safer environment for learning with state-of-the-art technology, Ortiz said.
“Our children, their heart is so full of excitement,” she said. “They’re right there and passionate about learning.” Her students come from different areas of a highly mobile community, she added, but “Once they are here, they don’t want to leave.”
Arla Riemersma, 66, who attended the school as a child, was impressed by the new building.
“I think it’s beautiful,” she said. “The neighborhood’s changed, and there’s a lot of kids in the neighborhood. They deserve a good school.”
By Charles Honey, courtesy of School News Network
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