Sleeping Giant School is days away from being done; grand opening Aug. 23 (with video, photo gallery) |

Sleeping Giant School is days away from being done; grand opening Aug. 23 (with video, photo gallery)

Crews are counting the days until the new Sleeping Giant School on the west side of Steamboat Springs is finished, with just over a week until the Aug. 23 grand opening.

While the signs of construction were still evident as workers completed finishing touches throughout the building Thursday, classrooms have furniture and a handful of administrators are already working in the building, though hardhats are still required.

“We’ve got to start somewhere,” said Jennifer Malouff, the school’s principal, as she worked in her new office in a vest and hardhat. “We have staff that is ready to go, we have kids and families that are chomping at the bit to get here, and we’re just waiting for the green light.”

There are just four staff working in the building now, including Malouff, but she said she anticipates more staff moving in next week.

Much of the current work is focused on exterior finishes, but the look of the building from the outside won’t change much over the next 10 days before it is slated to open.

Reilly O’Brien, owner’s representative for the district, said some work, such as landscaping, will have to be completed once school has started.

“That is pretty typical. We will try to get as much in before snow flies to give it a chance to get established over winter,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think I have ever done a school where the landscaping was done on day one.”

Outside, crews are finishing up sidewalks and other paved surfaces around the building. The circular pattern near the main entrance of the school is based on a Fibonacci sequence, which is a series of numbers where the next is derived from the sum of the previous two.

Sidewalks have in-ground heaters to melt snow that are controlled by both temperature and moisture sensors. These heaters are below playground equipment as well, which O’Brien said helps keep the rubber surface softer during colder months.

“It is nice and soft; it holds up pretty well,” O’Brien said.

There are three playgrounds at the new school — one each for preschool, elementary and middle school students. The middle school playground is the most modern, including a sculpted boulder and a series of poles resembling bamboo for students to climb on.

“I had to put (a climbing boulder) in at an elementary school a few years back, and the kids were all over it,” O’Brien said.

Workers were also putting in the new turf field behind the school on Thursday, adding a layer of rubber to soften impacts with the ground, with the turf coming later.

Inside the building, most of the creative finishes are either already in place or will be installed in the coming days. The entryway of the new school has skis and a snowboard hanging from the ceiling, walls have layered wood in a topographical design, and hallways are lined with bulletin boards in the shape of mountains.

“Those personal touches, the rocks that are out in the main corridor, the skis that are hanging, all of those little pieces that you don’t expect,” Malouff said. “Those are the things that pop, and I really think that it makes the school.”

A mural put together by three local artists — Jill Bergman, Jennifer Baker and Sandi Poltorak — has already been installed and more art will be put in place over the next week, O’Brien said.

Andrea Kortas, office manager at the new school, said the mural was her favorite part of the new school. Registrar Mary Grefrath said her favorite part is the learning stairs that connect the second floor with the first near the main community space in the building.

On the ceiling of that room, which will serve as a cafeteria and school assembly space among other uses, is a topographical design that matches the terrazzo floors that depict a similar design.

As crews work on landscaping, O’Brien said they are using a lot from a large mound of dirt that has drawn the ire of residents in the Silver Spur neighborhood. As more landscaping goes in, more of the dirt will be used, and it will eventually be surveyed back to the original grade.

Two modular classrooms that used to be at Soda Creek Elementary School have been moved onto the school grounds, but O’Brien said the intention is to use them for storage after the district was unable to find a buyer.

The district will hold a grand opening ceremony at 4 p.m. Aug. 23 with the first day of school set for the next morning.

“The kids, they are going to fill this place with laughter and joy,” Malouff said. “We can’t wait for the building to have that dynamic noise that we love.”

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