By JAMES EIK
Students and staff at the Medical Lake Alternative School are settling into their new home, a new building, this year.
The move took only a few days in the third week of August, transporting desks, books, computers and other teaching items into the new building, located at 317 N. Broad St. From there, staff began to unpack and set up the interior of the building,
Previously, the school was located in the portable buildings next to the district's administration building.
Principal Trish Smith said she noticed a difference on the first day of school, particularly in the atmosphere. In previous years, she took some of her work home, but has found that through the first week, the open windows and inviting nature, she's spending more time in the office later into the evening.
“Now I find myself working late,” she said. “I like to be here after school.”
Adding to the atmosphere, throughout the day some local wildlife will spend some time near the building.
Located in a former Rockwood Clinic building, the alternative school takes up nearly two-thirds of the space, with remaining offices for other administrative uses. More decorations are on their way, including whiteboards, bulletin boards and other items to place on the walls.
This year, 34 students are enrolled in the school, according to Smith.
Smith said she learned of the plans to change locations a couple of years ago. Since then, formalizing the property's acquisition, construction and setting up shop have taken the remaining time. After all the work, it opened on time for students Wednesday, Sept. 5.
The excitement from moving into a new classroom has many of the students excited, according to Smith.
“I think it makes the kids feel better about it,” she said.
Students agreed that the new building was nicer, and looked more like a classroom on the inside.
“It's a lot nicer than the old building,” senior Mark Jackson said.
Others said the new location made it easier to focus on their work and their individual pace during the day. Some students have classes at the high school, which is now across Barker Street, as opposed to the busier Lefevre Street.
“This is much brighter and more spacious,” senior Kaitlyn Smizaski said. “It's also quicker to get from the high school to here.”
The district's maintenance and information technology departments moved into the portable units.
Jackson said moving out of the portable classrooms has brightened the mood in the school, making for an exciting start to the year.
“You can come here with a sense of pride,” he said.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.