Soda Creek springs to life |

Soda Creek springs to life

Zach Fridell

The word of the day was “awesome.”

The new Soda Creek Elementary School, in its first day of operation after more than a year of construction, received a stamp of approval Monday from enthusiastic students who deemed the school not only “awesome,” but also “very big.”

“I think it’s really awesome, and I like the big rooms we have. Not everything is squeezed together like at the old building,” fourth-grader Alisha Khanna said.

Fellow fourth-grader Hadley McGee said it was the amenities she noticed the most.

“It’s really cool because we have fireplaces where we can do our work, and we have a cooler playground,” she said.

Two fireplaces are located on either side of a wall dividing the media center from the cafeteria, and another fireplace is in the teacher lounge area.

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Second-graders Morgan Mosher, Delaney Ziegman and a table full of their friends each took turns proclaiming the school “awesome” as they ate lunch in the cafeteria Monday.

“I like this better than the old school because this one is bigger,” Morgan said. “The old one was teeny.”

Delaney agreed but said there were also some adjustments the students had to make after moving from the Camp Soda Creek mobile units.

“There’s no talking at all. We’re used to outside hallways, so that’s new,” she said.

Many things were new to the students, from furniture in the classrooms, to increased space, to special touches including a cafeteria ceiling that looks like clouds.

“We like this better because it looks like the sky when you walk in,” second-grader Courtney Wester said.

Soda Creek Principal Judy Harris was pleased with how the first day played out. She said the staff met after school and decided they may make minor tweaks on details such as how parents meet up with students after school, but she said the first day was a smooth transition.

“I think overall it was great. We met as a staff after school and highlighted what we thought went really well and some areas we would like to adjust procedures,” she said. “We need to give it a little bit of time to get everything worked out.”

The new universal playground, one of two built by the community over the summer, is also drawing students’ attention, although it is not yet ready for play. The ground under the play structure is concrete, and school officials are waiting for a rubber pad to be poured into place.

Third-grader Jackie Brown said she was excited about the new playground, and even after she was told she wouldn’t be able to use it for at least a couple of weeks, she responded, “So? It still looks cool.”

District Facilities Director Rick Denney said he hopes the rubber pad can be poured starting at the beginning of next week. He estimates it will take four to six days to pour, and another day or two before students can use the playground.

Until that time, students will be able to use a grassy area for recess, but the new sod was too wet for play Monday.

The interior of the school has other finishing touches to be put in place – new flat-screen televisions will be mounted in classrooms later this week, and district Technology Director Tim Miles said about nine rooms have enhanced sound systems installed, with the rest of the rooms scheduled to come online soon.

“We had this new building, and we had to completely gut Strawberry Park (Elementary School). It has just overwhelmed us,” Miles said. “We’re playing catch-up now.”

Despite the daunting task, Miles and his team have all Soda Creek computers operational, and wireless Internet access will be available next week, he said.

According to fourth-grader Maddie McPeak, the school is already perfect.

“I think it’s very big and it’s cozy and it’s warm and you can’t really miss it when you drive by,” she said. “And you don’t have to walk out in the cold to go to the bathroom.”