A few finishing touches remain and some boxes still need to be unloaded, but the South-Western City School District's four new elementary school buildings will be ready when the school year opens Tuesday, Sept. 2.
Dedication ceremonies for each school have been scheduled as follows:
• Tuesday -- Harmon Elementary, 1861 Gantz Road, Grove City.
• Wednesday, Sept. 3 -- Monterey Elementary, 3811 Hoover Road, Grove City.
• Thursday, Sept. 4 -- Alton Hall, 982 Alton Road, Columbus.
• Sept. 8 -- Prairie Norton, 105 Norton Road, Columbus.
Each ceremony begins at 6 p.m.
Superintendent Bill Wise conducted a tour Friday, Aug. 22, of the new Harmon Elementary School building, provided for a group of school board members and community leaders.
Each of the design elements included in Harmon are featured in the other three buildings opening next week and they will be included in the schools to be built in phases 2 and 3, Wise said.
The 69,000-square-foot building is designed to accommodate 600 students, he said.
To help enhance student safety, the school's front entrance has double doors, which lock after students enter in the morning, Wise said.
Visitors can't enter the school without first checking in at the office. The front of the school building also includes large windows and glass doors so office personnel can see the parking lot, he said.
The school's cafeteria and gym are located across from the main entrance.
As community members desired, the rooms are separated so that students' lunch periods can be held while a gym class is underway, Wise said. The space has a 700-person capacity for events.
The walls and ceilings of the cafeteria and gym, as well as the entire school, are painted in bright, warm and inviting colors.
First- and second-grade classrooms are on the building's first floor while all third- and fourth-grade rooms are on the second floor, Wise said, so students will be able to stay with their peers throughout the day.
Each classroom features a White Board with a Short Throw Projector system.
Teachers can make PDF copies of the lessons they project on the board and send them to the home computers and devices of students who are absent, Wise said
Four speakers are installed in each classroom ceiling that will project teachers' voices equally throughout the room, he said.
"Teachers won't have to talk at the top of their lungs," Wise said.
Students' lockers are located in the classroom, as are Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sinks and water fountains.
Each classroom has a window facing the hallway, where extended learning areas are located.
"Teachers can divide the classroom and send a group out into the hall and still keep an eye on them while working with other students," Wise said.
At the end of the hallway, separate extended learning area rooms are available, again in view of teachers who remain in their classroom.
The classrooms are similarly designed on the second floor.
Each classroom is about 80 square feet larger than the average room across the district, Wise said.
The new schools are energy-efficient, heated and cooled by a closed loop geothermal system, he said.
Lights in the classrooms will turn off automatically if no one is in the room, Wise said.
The second floor includes the school's education resource center, "which is not the traditional library you'd see the last 30 years," he said.
Instead, it has a warm and inviting atmosphere for students, including a reading room, as well as six research stations with computers that will automatically transfer the materials students and teachers access to their classroom and personal devices, Wise said.
The school's new art and music rooms are larger, giving those teachers more room to work with their students, he said.