First graders offer resounding thumbs-up on tour of under-construction Stricker Elementary

By: Travis Estvold
16 May 2018

In April, students from Kimberly Elementary School (Kimberly, ID), were treated to tours of the cross-town, under-construction Stricker Elementary, slated to open for students and staff for the fall 2018 semester. At the time of the tours, construction was roughly 75% complete.

CTA project manager Scott Roberts and project architect Amy Lindgren were on-hand as several busloads of first graders were dropped off to explore the school many of them will attend this fall. Facilities on the tour route included a classroom wing, the library, and the Commons area.

Two primary factors — security and a common space — drove design, Lindgren noted.

School security is a current hot-button issue in the United States and identified as important to users of the new school, so Stricker Elementary takes advantage of the latest in security design and technology. A single-point entry vestibule — with a secondary entry vestibule for buses, locked down after buses depart — funnels all school entrants through double-doors located adjacent to the administrative offices, from which staff can keep eyes on all points of the school.

The hallway layout was designed for teachers and administrators to see down one wing directly from the offices, and move only a short distance to see down the other two classroom wings. The school’s security system can also be activated via a mobile app, effectively locking down the school at a moment’s notice, restricting access to the classroom wings, and providing vital time for a secure process of evacuating children, should an issue arise.

The Commons, a dynamic, multi-functional space, lies adjacent to the gym. Together, they create the heart of the school, something Lindgren notes was exciting for Kimberly School District’s superintendent. Mere steps from the administrative offices, it’s easy to be right in the middle of everything, he indicated as a high point. Large overhead garage doors in the interior gym walls can be opened to create a larger space for all-school assemblies, or after-hours community events.

Learn more from project architect Amy Lindgren, and watch the Kimberly first graders experience Stricker Elementary for the first time.

The first graders who toured the space may not have understood the importance of the security features or the versatility of the Commons, but they were certainly wide-eyed, Lindgren said. “They’d be standing there in a row, and kept saying, ‘Wow, this is amazing!'” Asked near the end of the tour what they thought of the new school — thumbs up, thumbs down, or in-between — a chorus of “Thumbs up!” cascaded from the group. (One student went so far as to holler, “Double-double-double thumbs up!”)

“Larry Pollard, our superintendent [from Starr Corporation], did a really great job giving the tour,” Lindgren noted. “It was fun to listen to the kids’ questions. Some were pretty weird!” Will there be a football field? Is this room seven? Why is there plastic on that? Why are the doors that color?

Speaking of which, color theory was another important factor contributing to design of the school. Each classroom wing features a unique accent color: K-1 is green, 2-3 is blue, and 4-5 is red, with the gym, office, and library utilizing pops of yellow. “When they get to school for the first time, they will know where they are supposed to be, then progress over the years,” Lindgren said. Doors at the end of each wing are also color-coded, making it easier for students to know where to line-up at the end of recess and following drills. “The color selections are highly intentional, and will make wayfinding a much more natural process,” Lindgren added.

Having kids as stakeholders in facility design makes for a different attention to detail, Lindgren also stated. You have to take into account how kids will use the space and what makes sense for them. Furniture design is unique and while visual interest is important, classroom accents can’t be so busy as to create distraction in the learning environment.

“Our team is really excited to see Stricker Elementary open this fall,” Lindgren said. If student reactions are any indication, it’ll be all thumbs-up once it does.

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