By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Community gets a look at new NPS facility, renovations
Members of the community toured Norman Public Schools during an open house Sunday.
The open house allowed people to see renovations and improvements made in the schools since a $109 million bond passed in 2009. Part of that bond went to the newest elementary school in the district, Ronald Reagan Elementary.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in front of a hallway in the new school, and the district formally dedicated Ronald Reagan Elementary just before the open house. Elementary supervisor Celeste Scott said she had never been part of opening a new school and it has been “very exciting.”
“I think the community will benefit from (Reagan) because they get to see what the vision of the future of education will be for Norman Public Schools,” Scott said.
Scott added, in the words of NPS Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano, what a treasure it is for students walking through the halls every day and having the most up-to-date facility.
With the open house, community members got to walk through the halls for the first time and see what the facility offers.
“Overall, we really enjoyed it,” said Beth Murray, of Norman.
Nicki Lorenzen, who toured the school with Murray, said she liked the layout and the brightness of everything. Both women also thought the library, technology center and new interactive boards were great.
One thing Lorenzen really loved was having different pick-up areas for students. As a grandmother, she said it will be great not having to wait in line so long on days she picks up her grandson when he begins school.
There are different pick-up areas for those attending day care, those departing on the bus and those being picked up by parents, she said.
“The walkers even have a different departure,” Lorenzen said.
This year, around 465 students are attending the new school.
One Norman family toured Sunday with their first-grader, Brooke Miller, who is transferring from Madison Elementary and will begin her first day at the new school today.
“Whoa” was Brooke’s first word when she walked into the school, her parents said. They said she was excited to begin her first day of class in the new school.
Due to the new school opening, enrollment numbers at Madison Elementary are down this year, which has helped them move more students inside the main facility.
Madison Elementary Principal Pam Charlson said the school used to have seven full-time classes outside, and now they are down to three. Fifth-graders are the only ones out in the portable classrooms now.
“It helps a lot (having more students in one building),” Charlson said. Less students will have to travel through bad weather now every time they travel from the portable classrooms to the main building.
The bond also allowed Madison to make several improvements, including a new secure entry, classroom renovations, a new kitchen and other interior renovations.
Second-grader Alex McGinnis said her favorite part about the new improvements was the gym. Talk of the new playground equipment widened her eyes as well, as she nodded with excitement when asked if she was looking forward to the new equipment.
Her mother, Candace McGinnis, said she likes that they now have doors on the classrooms. Previously, the classrooms only had curtains across the doorways of the rooms.
Also touring the school with them was their neighbor, Robyn Hilger. Hilger taught for 10 years in Oklahoma City and is now serving on The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools. She said they were at Reagan earlier in the day because she wanted to see the new construction and compare it to MAPS construction going on in Oklahoma City.
“And Alex wanted me to see her school,” Hilger added.
As far as classrooms go, each one in the Norman Public School District received Intelligent Classroom technology. Twenty-two public schools are in the district.
Kindergarten teachers at Wilson Elementary School said they love the improvements.
“The technology equipment in here is so much nicer,” teacher Sarah Cureton said.
Cureton also said with the new classrooms and equipment, the kids seem to take better care of things. Teacher Francisca Jensen said she thinks the new classrooms give children a positive atmosphere to learn in.
Some of the improvements at Wilson included new classroom additions, new classroom furniture, a new cafeteria and new stage curtains.
The school previously split the gym with a curtain, half of it being used as the cafeteria while the other half was used for physical education.
All elementary schools in the district received new gym floors, playground equipment and paint. All middle schools received lighting, flooring, painting, landscaping, cabinetry, lockers, hallway upgrades and softball field lighting.
The high schools received new markerboards, painting, hallway flooring and wall upgrades, renovated cafeterias, new cafeteria furniture and plasma monitors.
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