Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Rummel Creek Offers Nods to Neighborhood, Legacy

Trustees and Superintendent Scott R. Muri gather in the lobby of the new Rummel Creek Elementary before a tour on Friday, Dec. 11.

For Renee Rixie, this particular holiday season has been several years in the making.

“When my teacher friends in other districts talk about their (gift cards),” said Rixie, a fourth-grade teacher at Rummel Creek Elementary, “I say that I’m getting a new school.”

Rixie was showing her brand-new classroom to Trustees and other visitors last week during a walk-through of the new Rummel Creek building on Brittmoore. Earlier, she had told trustees through tear-filled eyes that she had never taught in a new school building during her 24-year career.

After 18 months at the South Transition Campus, Rummel Creek students and staff will start classes at the new building on Jan. 5, when the district returns from winter break. Classes were last held at the Brittmoore site in early June of 2014.

Opened in 1962, Rummel Creek is the 13th and final elementary school to be rebuilt as part of the $597.1 million bond package approved by district voters in November of 2007.  The bond program originally specified 12 elementary schools to be rebuilt, but through a combination of low interest rates and low construction prices the district had saved enough money by 2010 to add Rummel Creek to the list.

Principal Nancy Harn has been involved with the new building since first concept and thanked Trustees and district administrators for the new building.

“It has everything,” she said. “Everything we asked for is here.”

Everything includes the kiva, an integral part of the Rummel Creek learning environment. A rounded room with stepped seating, the kiva has always been a unique and highly used room at Rummel Creek and occupies a prominent space in the new building, inside the media center and adjacent to the cafeteria and its vertically folding doors.

The two-story building pays homage to both its site and the surrounding neighborhood, gently stepping back from a single story to two in a nod to the single-story homes nearby. The mix of materials on the front fa├žade not only blends the building with the neighborhood but unifies the design with other elementary schools rebuilt as part of the 2007 bond program.

Neighbors will be able to use the popular walking track and playground area at the back of the site after hours.

With walls of glass that open classrooms and common areas to the outside, the new Rummel Creek building takes full advantage of its park-like setting. Separate classroom wings form a courtyard between them, visible at night through expanses of glass that allow sightlines from the street towards the back of the site.

For fifth-grader Abby Gannon, the Jan. 5 official opening of the new Rummel Creek is especially sweet. Gannon confided near the end of the tour that when students arrive for classes that Tuesday, she’ll be a year older.

“It’s the best birthday present I could have.”


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