By Mark Rountree
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The long wait is nearly over.
In 10 days, classes are slated to begin for 525 students at the new Will Rogers Elementary School.
“We’re ready,” Will Rogers Principal Cherron Ukpaka said.
Teachers will begin moving classroom materials into the new school on Wednesday and continue through fall break. Classes resume Oct. 21 in the existing building, and substitute teachers, administrators and other district personnel will be in charge of students while Will Rogers teachers have their final work day before classes begin in the new school Oct. 22.
Parking and transportation will be an issue until the existing school is deconstructed to allow for bountiful parking and greenspace. Until then, parents can drop off and pick up their children on Mustang Lane, a one-way, eastbound road north of the new school. They should then go south on Ramsey and east on Eskridge. Parents also can park south of the existing building and walk their children over to the new building.
City of Stillwater building inspector Mike Roberts took a preliminary tour around the new facility Friday, said building site manager John Lawler of Lambert Construction. Roberts will revisit the school early next week to inspect life safety issues such as fire alarms, sprinkler systems and electrical units. If all goes well, the school will be issued a temporary certificate of occupancy.
The move into the new school actually began last spring when teachers began boxing up nonessential classroom materials. Those items were transported and stored in a vacant facility at Cimarron Plaza, and will be moved into the new building soon.
“We are teaching a little out of the boxes,” said Heather Alred, a Will Rogers kindergarten teacher. “We’re fairly organized. We are trying to be flexible. ... We’ll be working all of fall break. But we are excited. We want the classrooms to be the best they can be for the kids.”
Ukpaka said Alred’s attitude is the same as all other teachers at the school.
“The staff is being very flexible and accommodating and keeping kids first,” she said.
Ukpaka estimated that 90 percent of the classroom materials have been boxed and stored in the school’s breezeway in the last two weeks.
There are approximately 450 boxes of books and materials waiting to get moved in the library, the largest room in the old building. Throughout the school, there are about 2,000 boxes to be moved.
“It’s an organized mess,” said Nikole Kelty, librarian/media specialist at the school. “But we have sorted it and have all the boxes numbered and color coded.”
Kelty anticipates it will take between 24 and 48 hours to completely move, unpack and arrange a classroom.
“There’s so much to organize, put up on the walls,” she said. “I used to be middle school teacher, and just getting my room ready at the beginning of the year took two or three solid days, and that was with some of the stuff that I had from the year before, and that wasn’t starting fresh and getting things out of boxes.”