- Sponsorship -

Renovated Building ‘Feels Like a Brand-New School’

First Day Excites Students, Parents, Teachers

Just after taking their seats in the newly renovated Alpine Elementary School, LeAnn’s Smoes’ fourth-graders piped up when she asked what they liked about it.

“New clocks!” one said. “The rooms are huge,” offered another. “These desks are so new!” exclaimed a boy. “First-day jitters, here we come,” a girl announced.

Alpine’s freshly painted and carpeted hallways and classrooms were jittery with excitement Monday, as its 400 or so students returned for the first day of school to a renewed building. Alpine underwent a $7.2 million renovation over the summer, sporting everything from new classroom furniture, lighting and ceilings to a new secure front entrance, parent drop-off area and bus loop.  A new front office was added, and a new gym is still under construction.

The Kenowa Hills Knight roamed the halls welcoming students, including kindergartner Dylan Torres

In other words, pretty much new everything.

“It feels like a brand-new school,” said Smoes, who’s taught fourth grade here for 19 years in the same classroom. “A new beginning is what it feels like, and it’s real exciting.”

A new roof and updated playground equipment also were part of the upgrade, paid for with a $55 million bond issue approved by voters in 2016. Also ready on opening day were a more secure entrance, tennis courts, baseball dugouts and a remodeled front office at the high school.  Further improvements of district schools are planned through 2020.

Security was a key feature of the bond, and one parents at Alpine appreciated. Visitors must be admitted to the front office before they can enter the building, there are more cameras, and combination digital clocks and pagers can flash lights and messages in an emergency.

Carmen Zuniga proudly poses with her daughter, Amy Perez, on their way into school

Safety Top Concern

“It seems like it’s going to be much safer,” said Tara Triezenberg, as her third-grade daughter, Grace, got to work with pencil and Play-Doh. “You can walk right in the front door and come in.”

Parents used to drop their students off in a busy parking lot on the south side, from which students had to walk through a long hallway past several classrooms. Now parents use their own lot facing Baumhoff Avenue NW, while buses drop students off at a separate loop northeast of the building.

Safety and security were top priorities in winning approval of the bond issue, said Principal Jason Snyder.

“When we listened to the community, that was the No. 1 thing that came through,” Snyder said, adding modern classroom furniture will “impact learning for students in a positive way. … I couldn’t be more thankful (to the community).”

Teachers got their rooms ready in a hurry over the previous few days, as other teachers, parents and administrators helped to unpack boxes and place furniture and desks. Workers overseen by general contractor Owen Ames Kimball put in long hours to get the building ready on time.

LeAnn Smoes was pleased with the results, and her students were too.

“It looks welcoming and clean,” Smoes said of her classroom. “I think students will feel it’s theirs.”

- Sponsorship -
Charles Honey
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers Rockford and Grand Rapids. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio or email Charles.

LATEST ARTICLES

Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...

Rain gutter regatta showcases buoyancy, engineering skills

An annual boat race has become a highlight of sixth-grade science class. At stake: bragging rights and 'a goofy trophy'...

The Hood family: a school & community leadership dynasty

Five generations have lived within a five- to six-mile radius dating back to a government work program in the 1930s...

The sky’s the limit (or is it?) for this accomplished model builder

Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Schools, organizations step up to feed students, families

Area schools continue to provide free grab and go meals at regular distribution events and community partners are helping to fill in the gaps to make sure everyone is fed during a very challenging time...

Making merry music, from a safe distance

The holidays may look different this year, but Kenowa Hills students are still finding ways to lift spirits by sharing their musical talents...
00:01:14

Video series aims to fill teachers’ cups with appreciation

Kenowa Hills schools are sharing video messages of gratitude for teachers, just in time for a hope-filled holiday season...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS