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Phase 1 of bond improvements nearing completion

Kenowa Hills — Walking down the main hallway of the Kenowa Hills Early Childhood Center, older carpet meets new, an invitation to explore the brand-new, modernized learning spaces. 

Principal Luke Scholten explained the facelift to the infant and child care wing of the ECC marks the final stages of Phase 1 of a $67 million bond proposal approved by voters in 2020. Major areas of the bond include the ECC, middle and high school. 

At the ECC, that includes four new classrooms and shared learning spaces. Additional upgrades there include a large shared learning space, three-season room and outdoor playscapes and landscaping. 

One of the upgrades Scholten is most excited about: new washer and dryer units, right next door to the infant room. 

‘It’s fantastic to have this space designed for whatever we want it to be. We’re really trying to have a true Early Childhood Center to house our programs, not just making an old building fit our needs.’

– ECC Principal Luke Scholten

“We go through a lot of laundry, and having this is critical and extremely convenient,” he said. 

Continuing his tour of the school’s new addition, Scholten pointed out the new adjoining classrooms for daycare and before- and after-school care.

“It’s fantastic to have this space designed for whatever we want it to be,” he said. “We’re really trying to have a true early childhood center to house our programs, not just making an old building fit our needs.” 

Past the shared learning space with art easels and options for flexible seating, Scholten entered a room with windows on three sides and pushed a button on the wall to open a garage door. 

“Our architect thought about how to incorporate different elevations, textures and being intentional about what students can feel and climb on outside,” he said.  

The new playground features designated outdoor learning spaces with elements of nature included in the seating and structures. 

Instead of a field of grass and wooden fence, Birch Room teacher Christina Fabian and her older preschool students now see a brand-new playground outside her classroom window.

Fabian is excited to have places for her class to travel throughout the school beyond the confines of the classroom, what Scholten called “field trips within the building.” 

Said Fabian: “I love it, all and the kids love it… the bathrooms and new sinks in the classroom have made  hand-washing so much easier, and bigger, more user-friendly spaces allow for collaboration with our teachers in adjoining classrooms.”

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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