NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
Two recent letters criticized Kennedy Elementary, and the writers’ concerns about lack of furnishings and teaching aids prompted me to look more closely at the school, now that the new year has started.
I live next to the Kennedy playground, and our son, Cory, now a Topeka, Kan., attorney, went from kindergarten through the fifth-grade there. Despite the bulk of residential expansion well outside of Kennedy’s student district, enrollment has remained high over the intervening years.
Like any facility nearing 50 years of age, (Kennedy is the 11th oldest school in Norman) the writers suggested that Kennedy seemed to be lacking. But after looking into their claims, little difference in support exists between Kennedy and the other elementary schools.
Every classroom has an Intelligent Classroom board and equipment, a technological investment of $328,000. Due to its age, Kennedy was repainted inside and out this last summer, new carpet was installed throughout the school, and outside and inside lighting were upgraded. The gym floor was replaced, the stage floor was refinished and new stage curtains were put up.
To strengthen classroom identity in the open school floor plan, new shelves and cabinets are being installed, and a handsome remodeled front office, hallway and front entry are nearly complete. Additionally, new playground equipment will soon be in place. The price of these improvements total $880,000, thanks to the school bond that the voters passed in 2009.
Future considerations outside are improved landscaping by the gym and the front entrance and perhaps an all-weather track at the football/soccer field, which would be a big draw for families who walk as well as young athletes who want to perform later in competitive track. If you recall, Kelbie Washington, a Kennedy fourth-grader and nine at the time, was only one of eight girls in the U.S. and Canada who qualified in her age group for the prestigious Hershey’s Track Meet in Pennsylvania this summer, and she won the 100-yard dash in the 9-, 10- and 11-year-old bracket.
The outlook is positive, and Kennedy, like all good schools, is marking time with each new group of kids and helping its fourth decade of students read, explore and learn about their country and the world.
Council member, Ward 1