Hayden school gives students, community new space to grow
HAYDEN — Students in the Hayden School District are finally under one roof after opening a new school, in what some have called a new start for students in the state of the art facility.
Designed with the future of education in mind, the school has many community spaces and small group rooms for students to learn in collaborative ways.
“We finally have that facility to enable our staff to deliver the kind of education that they can,” said Brian Hoza, Hayden School Board president, underscoring that the new building will give students a better learning experience.
“Not only the technology and all the teaching tools that are in (the school), but just the environment itself sets a different tone, creates an expectation and a studious environment that our kids haven’t had for a long, long time,” Hoza said.
The 139,000-square-foot school was funded in part by a Building Excellent Schools Today Grant from Colorado’s Department of Education, a grant funded from a combination of state land proceeds, marijuana tax revenue and Colorado Lottery dollars.
The $38.8 million grant was used along with a $22.9 million bond Hayden voters approved by two votes in 2017 to complete the school.
Throughout the life of the grant, which started in 2008, there have been 354 grants given to 141 school districts across the state. Grants have improved health, safety and security of over 500 schools and improved learning environments for nearly a quarter-million students.
The new school is not just a good development for the school district but for the entire town of Hayden.
“When people come to move to a community, what is the first thing they ask about: ’How are the schools?’” Hayden Mayor Tim Redmond said. “That had always been something that had held Hayden back.”
Redmond reflected on having to sign a waiver when his children went to the old Hayden school because of asbestos in the building.
“Who wants to send their kids into that environment?” Redmond said. “When the bond was approved, I had people calling me up and say we were waiting on buying that piece of property to see if the bond was approved.”
Gracie Day, a senior at Hayden, said the new school is a new start for Hayden students.
“I think there are a lot of stereotypes in the old building that we had, like we knew we weren’t a very good school, we didn’t have all the opportunities that other students had. Now, we have so many more opportunities,” Day said.
All grade levels are now under the same roof from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, and the building also houses the district’s administrative apparatus.
Having all the students in one building allows the district to create and build the community environment they say the school thrives on. When they were on different campuses, Christy Sinner, superintendent of the Hayden School District, said students would walk back and forth to be classroom aids and read to younger students
“It has been a great collaboration effort,” Sinner said. “It really brings the town together, too, because they have so many siblings in all the grade levels, and it just makes us all a closer family.”
One of the most obvious features of the new school are windows, something the interior classrooms in the old school lacked.
“We had dungeon cells. No light at all,” Sinner said of the old school. “We have lots of student areas where they can sit, extra plugs for Chromebooks and just hangout, do their work and collaborate.”
At the center of the middle and high school wing of the school is what the school is calling the “learning stairs,” a half-staircase, half-auditorium-like space that can seat multiple classes at one time.
Community spaces are throughout the school, allowing students to work, learn and hang out in a variety of spaces from high-top tables to couches, something that Hoza said is the most exciting part of the new school to him.
“The places for kids and staff to gather, the work spaces, the general spaces for them to hangout and communicate and do group work,” Hoza said. “Our district is such a one united group that they are now in an environment where they can play that out.”
Throughout the school are small-group rooms that have glass walls allowing students to work together while teachers can keep their eye on them.
The school features a large outside courtyard near the lunchroom, allowing students to eat outside when weather permits. There are several different pergolas for shade and an outdoor amphitheater that can be used as an outdoor classroom but also will be used by the community as well.
The building has both a traditional gymnasium and what school officials are calling their “Gymatorium,” a space with bleacher seats on one side and a stage on the other. The new athletic spaces will allow them to host tournaments, something they have not been able to do in the past.
The school also has a large mechanic shop and a welding shop with a variety of different welding stations that, in a post-pandemic time, also will host some adult classes.
The media center is a combination room to accommodate both secondary and elementary students. Higher-level books are on straight gray shelves while elementary-level books are on curved white book shelves.
The elementary wing is housed in the part of the new building that used to be the elementary school. The entire inside was renovated and features all new furniture in the classrooms.
The elementary student’s cubbies are now outside of the classrooms in the hallway, something teachers requested to allow for more space in the room. Each room features an interactive display board called a Promethean Board, allowing teachers to involve students in interactive lesson plans.
There also is a new playground for the students, who had not had one since construction began because there was not space at the old school.
“They were so exhausted at noon that lunch was the quietest we have ever had it,” Sinner said reflecting on the first day students used the new playground.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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