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Students, staff enjoy elementary renovations

Choosing new playground pieces was part of the fun

Wyoming  — What’s most exciting about the renovations to Oriole Park Elementary? “The playground!” said second-grader Emmanuel Delacruz- Falcon.

Construction and renovations are nearing completion at the district’s Oriole Park and Parkview elementary schools, and students returned to their upgraded classrooms and freshly painted schools after the holiday break.

At Oriole Park, students voted last November on whether to add a we-saw, which is like a high-tech seesaw, or a Curva Spinner, which allows for some serious stand-up spinning, to their schoolyard. Though the we-saw got the most votes, the district had enough in the budget for both pieces of equipment.  

It was a lesson in democracy and also a way for them to be involved in planning their school’s upgrades. Now, students are constantly spinning and we-sawing during recess, not to mention enjoying the other more than $4 million in renovations facility-wide. 

Oriole Park, at 1420 40th St. SW, now has large classroom windows that let in lots of natural light, and  students learn in a new two-classroom addition and work on new furniture designed for comfort and mobility. A new parking lot relieves formerly congested drop off and pick-up times. Fresh paint everywhere provides a much-needed facelift, and updated technology is keeping students connected.

‘Wyoming Public School has such great support; it is nice to know that the community has our back when we need facility upgrades.’

— Parkview Principal Nick Damico

And what about that playground equipment? “We actually got to vote on which one we wanted,” said fourth-grader Caleb Potter.

“It’s really cool because we voted last year and now we actually got it,” added fourth-grader Jurnee Rios.

Principal Kristen Minard said it was a highlight of months of construction to include students in playground planning. “The kids were part of some of the process,” she said, adding that they also provided input on types of furniture they wanted. “I think there’s some ownership there.”

Oriole Park teacher Laura Sluys is enjoying her new classroom, designed with features that meet the needs of her students who have special needs. For example, the room has dimmable lights, ideal for students with light sensitivity. The room also has a sink and an entry area where students can store boots and other items. 

“It’s a lovely renovation,” Sluys said. “It is gorgeous. This room is absolutely wonderful. There are so many neat features.”

At Parkview, Principal Nick Damico is enjoying the upgrades. “Wyoming Public School has such great support; it is nice to know that the community has our back when we need facility upgrades. From the new electronic marquee to the polished concrete floors, we really have a school building that we can all be proud of.”

A key feature of Parkview’s building upgrades is a new bus loop behind the school. “This has made our morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up procedures much smoother and safer for everyone,” Damico said.

Bond Work Continues

Oriole Park and Parkview are the first of the district’s four elementary schools to complete the bulk of planned renovations, funded through a bond issue passed in 2017. The work follows the completion of the new Wyoming High School building in 2020. 

Similar renovation projects at Gladiola Elementary and West Elementary are slated to begin this spring and be completed in late summer or fall.

‘It’s really cool because we voted last year and now we actually got it.’

— fourth-grader Jurnee Rios

Renovations and upgrades are also planned at the Huntington Woods Early Childhood Center, Community Education building, bus garage, and Wyoming Intermediate School.

The largest remaining project, at Wyoming Junior High, is scheduled to start in 2023. The bond earmarked about $11 million for the project, to include more than $3 million in major upgrades of the Dan Heintzelman Fine Arts Center. 

The district is considering asking the community to vote on another $24.9 bond issue on May 3 for more extensive renovations at the junior high, mirroring the rebuild of Wyoming High School. The bond would not increase taxes for residents, said Matt Lewis assistant superintendent for finance and administrative services.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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