CALDWELL, TX — For Caldwell Elementary School students, the first day of class this year is going to be unlike any they've experienced before.
A sunny, colorful library; an open-concept, shared learning space; barrel-shaped children’s chairs designed for dynamic seating - it’s all part of what Caldwell ISD has been working towards, utilizing a $39 million bond passed in 2018.
"Finally being able to move into this space has been so exciting," said Erin Supak, principal of Caldwell Elementary School. "One of the greatest things has been just seeing the look on everyone’s face when they walk in, and immediately there’s a smile.”
The new elementary school on alligator street has been through many stages of life. Starting in the 1800s, it was a high school. For the past 30 years, it’s served as the junior high. Now, it’s completely remodeled and expanded.
"One of the greatest things about this new building is just the design," Supak said. "The design is really set up for students to be able to work together and collaborate throughout the day – not just in their own classroom, but among other classrooms as well.”
The 2018 bond didn’t just go towards creating a new elementary school, though. Caldwell Intermediate School students will move into the old elementary school building, which has been refurbished for them. Caldwell Junior High School students will move into the former intermediate building. There, the district has added a locker room, weight room, and band hall.
Eighth-grade teacher Danielle Hicks said that her students had to share classroom space with the high school last year, while construction was underway. Hicks' students and her colleagues missed out on the sense of community generated through sharing a small campus made exclusively for them.
"I think the junior high will just be happy to be together again, and have our own space again," she said.
Principal Supak took Hicks on her first tour through the new elementary school on Thursday. Seeing her old classroom for the very first time since its transition into an elementary school room, Hicks noted she felt a sense of nostalgia, reflecting on some of her favorite memories.
"I had a squeaky chicken that the kids and I would have fun with," Hicks chuckled, glancing around the clean, sunny space. "We had a blue whale that the teachers, kids, and I got... It was just this big wadded paper and we would run next door, throw it in the [next] teacher’s room, and run back! We would get the kids involved and have fun. And we missed that last year."
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