By Katelyn Robertson, Editor
With the school year coming to an end, students everywhere are getting excited for summer vacation. That could not have been any less the case on Tuesday, May 21 as 10 future fourth and fifth graders toured the campus of the new Charter Oak Elementary.
As the select students toured the facility with school board members and other leaders of the community, there was nothing but giggles and excitement for the coming year, both from the children and the adults.
“We are so excited to be here,” said Rebecca Vaughn, Principal of Pirtle Elementary. “I don’t know who’s more excited: them or me!”
Students were welcomed to the campus by Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon, who had one simple question: what do you want to see?
“Everything!” was the unanimous response.
They meant it. The students excitedly opened every door and explored as much as possible of their new school home, including the bathrooms and nurse’s office. Even school board members Ty Taggart and Jeff Norwood took a moment to experience the state-of-the-art water fountains in the hallway.
Architect Jarrod Sterzinger and interior design and construction coordinator Jayna Duke answered questions along the way and pointed out unique features of the campus. Students sat in the uniquely-shaped reading nooks that line each side of the main hallways, where students will be able to enjoy their own space to read or work. District officials marveled at the learning environments in each grade level wing, complete with seating areas and projectors to enable small group learning outside the classrooms.
One feature that really stuck out to the students was the unique shape of many features of the campus, from the hallway lighting to the architectural accents on the walls.
“We wanted the school to look really fun and playful for you,” Duke said. “We wanted you to look at it and say ‘That looks like a…’ and each of you see something different, like when you look at the clouds.”
“We wanted everything about the school to really let you know you can be anything you want to be,” Sterzinger added.
Although Duke and Sterzinger were ready to answer more questions from the students, they were quickly entranced by other features of the campus.
Of course, they took full advantage of the opportunity to play on the playground. Nestled among the trees, the facility is a prototype for playgrounds in the district, and it comes with accessible features to accommodate all students.
Laughter and excited squeals were heard throughout the tour as the students explored the cafeteria, science lab, and music room, each coming away with their own favorite and looking forward to the school years to come.
“We’re just really excited for these students and they have just brought so much life to the campus today,” Dr. Kincannon said. “They wanted to touch and feel it all, and it was so exciting to see them explore.”
Kincannon told students about the namesake of the school, a historic live oak tree on the east bank of the Leon River. The tree was the site of the first election in Bell County, and will be replicated in murals in the entryway of the school.
Parents of future Charter Oak students will also have the opportunity to tour the campus during its official open house Thursday night, and there will be 10 students excited to lead the way.