Work at new Sleeping Giant School moves inside as classrooms, common areas take shape (with video)
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A large metal post holding up the overhang above the main entrance to the new Sleeping Giant School is meant to look like a tree. It matches posts used just inside the entrance that will eventually make the second-floor balcony look like a tree house.
The floors will eventually lay out the topography of surrounding areas, and bulletin boards are being fashioned to look like mountain ranges —just some of the many elements throughout the new school meant to pay homage to the mountain town it will serve.
Construction on Sleeping Giant School has moved mostly inside as the roughly 100-person crew continues the push to complete the building by the end of summer. There is still work to do on the outside — no, it will not be yellow when finished — but inside crews have begun to close up the walls, allowing classrooms to take shape.
“Now, we get to a lot of little stuff — all the finishes, the tile, paint and other types of flooring,” said Sam Meeks, a superintendent on the project. “There’s almost a lot more little stuff from here on out than there was in the beginning.”
Work has generally moved east to west on the building, with the area that will eventually hold middle school students largely having classrooms closed up.
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The west side is where elementary, kindergarten and preschool students will be primarily. Right now, it is mainly just studs as workers install electrical, ventilation and other systems that will later be hidden behind the walls.
Mark Preuss, general superintendent for the project, said there have been some delays getting supplies like wainscoting for the walls, but that won’t impact finishing on time.
Most of the classrooms have an attached breakout room with glass walls and science classrooms have a shared lab storage and preparation space. Each classroom also has a sink to allow for easy hand washing.
“They all share them so each room can use (the breakout rooms) and they all have big windows in them so if the teacher can see into that breakout room and also out into the classroom,” Meeks said.
The gym for the school is not as big as the one at Steamboat Springs High School but can still fit multiple courts. The room is lined with square windows high on the wall and will have several solartube skylights that can be controlled to change the amount of light let in.
One striking feature of the school is the windows, with some of them stretching from floor to ceiling. The media room’s windows, which is essentially the entire south wall of the room, will have a great view of Mount Werner.
Having all that light is a feature Principal Jennifer Malouff said teachers who have been hired to work at the school really enjoyed when they toured it before Blues Break.
Another popular feature for the teachers was the common area between wings of the school, which features learning stairs connecting the second floor balcony with the cafeteria area.
The stairs, which are outfitted with many electrical plugs, will be finished with wood flooring and face a stage on the opposite side of the space. Behind the stage is a retractable wall that will open the music room right onto the stage, allowing for easy access.
Atop the stairs, there is an area with audio and video connections to run a projector for presentations and school assemblies. The floor will be a concrete coating called terrazzo, which will have strips that outline the local area’s topography. While more expensive upfront, Preuss said using that flooring will save the district money in the long run.
Meeks said they have been fortunate to avoid much exposure to COVID-19 on the site, and weather has been really good for construction. The building is slated to open Aug. 23, but crews will probably finish the building earlier that month.
The mascot for the school has been announced as a bear, and now Malouff said the logo has now been chosen as well. It’s a profile of a green and blue bear walking on the rough shape of the mountain the school is named after.
Malouff is also focused on hiring the school’s staff, which is being done in three phases.
“The most important thing that we are doing right now is we are working on getting the right people at Sleeping Giant,” Malouff said. “Once we get those right people there, then we can start really honing in and doing some great in-depth planning.”
The district isn’t necessarily needing to add many staff to accommodate the new school because it won’t result in many new enrollments in the district this fall. Instead, Malouff said staff will essentially be shifted around, following students to the new school.
The school has hired 12 people so far, including elementary and middle school teachers, an assistant principal and a few other staff. Malouff said they have been gradually releasing job postings since the end of December, and more are coming out this week.
“Once we have that team, then it will be time to sit down and talk about first, the big picture, what is the powerful narrative we are going to write for Sleeping Giant School and then how are we going to make that narrative come to life,” Malouff said.
Malouff said she hopes to bring more groups through the school before the opening, as well as holding some dedication events.
“That first day of school with them coming in and seeing their reaction, it is going to be great,” Malouff said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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Students in the Steamboat Springs School District generally did as good or better in English language arts last school year but struggled to keep pace in math, according to results of state standardized testing.