Big changes ahead for Hayden schools during year of transition
Elementary classes move into secondary school during construction of new school
HAYDEN — Hayden Elementary School students are about to embark on a year of adventure — deemed “Camp Tiger Paw” by the dedicated teachers and parents who have spent weeks painting trees and mountains on walls and hanging signs on the classroom doors in the shape of tents.
It is a year of transition as the elementary school temporarily moves into the secondary school building while the new campus is under construction on Breeze Basin Boulevard.
Once the new $48 million building is complete around the end of July 2020, it will house prekindergarten through 12th-grade students.
It’s only nine months of “Camp Tiger Paw,” said Hayden Superintendent Christy Sinner, but “first-graders are only in first grade once, and we want to make it the very best year.”
Middle school students will also feel the “camp” experience, as they move out to three modular units for their core classes. Each modular houses two classrooms, and the middle school building will still be used for electives.
The administrative offices have moved next door to the Babson Carpenter Career & Technical Education Center to make more room for the elementary students.
A new preschool playground was constructed over the summer, the pieces of which will eventually move to the new campus.
Everyone will share the cafeteria, though they didn’t have to change lunch schedules, Sinner said.
Readying for the 2019-20 school year has been a “total team effort,” Sinner said, with a focus on continuing to provide a safe and secure environment. The biggest challenge is limited space, and the staff has tried to maximize every square foot.
There will be some different drop-off and pick-up points for parents, and parking spaces are more limited, she said. All buses will stay on the secondary side of the building, and elementary students will be walked to and from the bus stops.
Hayden students and parents are embarking on another big change this year — four-day school weeks. Sinner said the feedback on the new schedule, which offers Fridays off, has been positive.
And along with the camp theme for the youngest students, there is an emphasis on a bigger theme of unity, as the younger kids will be in the same building as the older kids.
“We want to build a sense of family and oneness,” Sinner said, as next year they will all be sharing the new campus.
The new school incorporates the bones of the old elementary school, which has already been gutted. Next to it, the towering white walls of the secondary school have gone up.
“There’s a lot of excitement and buzz” throughout the whole town about the new building, Sinner said.
Even with delays due to late winter weather, Sinner said construction is on track and on budget. The district has been able to fund a full list of “add alternate” projects that include an elementary school playground and an eight-lane, all purpose track with a synthetic turf field and football lights. They also were able to use wooden beams instead of steel in parts of the interior, which was designed to be bright, open, and reflect the natural surroundings.
The fate of the existing school has yet to be determined. The $38.8 million BEST grant that is funding the majority of the new school stipulates the old school be demolished, unless another public entity opts to purchase or operate the space.
The town of Hayden is exploring turning it into a community center, saving the gymnasium, auditorium and some classroom space.
Sinner asks parents and staff to be patient during the first few weeks of school as they get out any “hiccups” with the new configuration. And for the elementary students, they will be the only campers ever to attend a year at Camp Tiger Paw.
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