The staff and families at Stevenson Elementary are wrapping up their last year in the original Stevenson building and are preparing to move to Bellewood next year while their home school is torn down and rebuilt.
“There are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties for the families when we have been talking about transitioning to Bellewood and the new school, but the one thing that has been common to all the meetings we have had is that everyone just breaks out in applause,” Principal Anissa Bereano said. “They are so excited to see their new school, especially after watching all the other new beautiful schools go up in the area. They are ready for their new school. It has been a pleasure to be a part of that and see the excitement of the community.”
In addition to packing up the school, the project team has been meeting weekly with the contractor, Cornerstone General Contractors, to go over logistics and scheduling.
Upon completion Stevenson will be the largest elementary school building in the district, coming in at some 106,000 square feet.
“It followed our standard program, and then there was an addition of special education spaces,” Project Manager Kyle McLeod said. Additional classrooms, spaces for other programs like the Family Connection Center, and hallways connecting it all also increased the footprint of the building.
“The goal is more inclusion and keeping the Stevenson kids at Stevenson,” Bereano said.
Transition Principal Jill McLeod, who is providing extra administrative support to the school this year, said that she is looking forward to students and staff having the space they need.
“We are so crowded and we are using every nook and cranny here now in many different ways,” Jill said. “I think (the new building) is going to feel wonderful.”
Demolition will begin right after school gets out in late June. The timeline calls for the classroom wing at the north end of the site to be built first with work continuing south through the site, a process that Kyle explained is dictated by the use of heavy equipment, with crews essentially working their way from the back to front of the site.
The new building will sit on the back of the property which will allow for significantly more parking, a large parent drop off loop, and a bus loop.
“This access in front becomes a park-like promenade,” Kyle said.
“We are interested in having an international feel to the school through design and art because we have children from all over the world,” Jill said.
One of those design elements will be signage in Spanish and English, including on the Stevenson Elementary sign out front.
The heart of the new school will be a rotunda open space that will bridge the more public areas of the school like the office, gym, and specialist areas to the classroom wing.
“The library, music and art spaces, gym, and classroom wing all create a kind of amphitheater out to the west with a tremendous view of Bellevue and Seattle with an Olympic Mountains backdrop,” Kyle said.
The school will feature a number of green, energy saving elements including ground source heat pumps, geothermal heating and cooling systems, solar hot water, LED lights, and much of the old building will be recycled. The plans also call for benches to be made from the wood of the existing cherry blossom trees as an arborist determined that they like wouldn’t survive the shock of being replanted, and new cherry blossom trees will be planted on site.
“We are really excited about getting it going and getting the community their new school,” Kyle said.