Even Wilmington students who attended Deerfield Valley Elementary School last year may be surprised when they walk in the door. Although TVES may not look very different from DVES on the outside, the inside has been substantially reconfigured and renovated.
The change is evident from the moment one enters the building. Where the school library was once open to the lobby, there’s now a wall separating the library from the entryway. The school offices are still to the left, and the gymnasium and stage are still located through doors to the left. But passing through the hallway that skirts the gym (or passing through the gym itself) students will find a new setup.
Gone are the carpeted walkways that passed through the classroom “cubicles” on either side of the building. Gone are the thin partition walls and accordion dividers. Now students will find a single tiled hallway down the center of the building. At intervals down the corridor, the hallway “bulbs” out where there are doorways to the classrooms – four classroom doors at each “bulb.”
The classrooms themselves are quite traditional – with tiled floors, cement block walls, desks or tables, and chairs. Each classroom has a window for natural lighting and energy-efficient fluorescent lighting.
But not everything is traditional. The new rooms also come with the latest in classroom technology – SMART Boards. SMART Boards look like regular white boards, but they also act as a computer display and input device, integrating computer and Internet technology in the classroom. Although Twin Valley schools have been using portable SMART Boards in some classrooms, now every classroom will have the technology permanently installed.
School board and building committee member Phil Taylor says that, although the boards are pricey, installing them in each classroom was less expensive than buying regular white boards for each classroom and several of the portable SMART Boards. “It’s amazing how much you pay for a white board,” he said. “So we decided to put the SMART Boards in for economy as much as anything else.”
Each classroom also has new storage cabinets and cubbies in which students can hang their coats and store boots and other personal items. The rest of the classroom furniture is from DVES and Whitingham Elementary School. Taylor says worn furniture was culled from the combined inventory along with odd pieces, leaving the school with relatively new and uniform furniture. “That also makes maintenance easier.”
Although all of the classrooms look new, only four regular classrooms were added onto the building in an addition to the west wing of the building. The fourth- and fifth- grade classrooms on the east end of the building also got the full treatment, with a central hallway, new walls and doors, and cabinetry.
In another addition on the north side of the building, there’s a new music room and an art room. “That’s going to be so different from what we had before, which was basically an ‘art cart’ that went from classroom to classroom,” Taylor says. Both of the rooms have ample storage for supplies and equipment.
The two rooms flank the new cafeteria. Because the cafeteria was built next to the existing kitchen, the food preparation area remains in the same place, with some changes, including a new serving area.
The addition on the north end also houses the school’s new wood pellet boiler. The boiler is fed by a large, auger-driven hopper on the outside of the building. “That’s really going to cut down on our energy costs,” Taylor says. “We were spending almost as much for heat here as we were at the high school.”
Although crews were still at work finishing up some detail work at the school this week, Taylor says Monday’s school start is definite. “We’ll still have a few things to fine tune,” he said. “But we’ll be ready for the kids when school starts.”