By Alissa Tucker, Intern Architect
On Tuesday, September 8th, a few VMDO’ers had the pleasure of visiting Discovery on its opening day. I wanted to share how special it was to see the students enjoying their new school. It was a wonderful reminder of why we do the work that we do.
The Arlington community has been incredibly supportive. Parents and a few high school students, with no affiliation to the school, volunteered over Labor Day weekend to help teachers get moved in and settled. Students at nearby Williamsburg Middle School said they wanted to grow up to be teachers so that they could work at Discovery. It is clear that the community is thrilled with what has been built and are eager to help in any way they can.
We often get caught up worrying about the details that we can’t control during construction. It was easy to cast our architect tendencies aside when we heard the students giggling and saw them smiling. We had parents in awe as they walked their kids to their class – some even insisted on going down the slide.
We heard students discussing whether they were in the “Woodland Deer Mouse” or “Gray Tree Frog” classroom. We enjoyed seeing teachers echo their corridor wayfinding theme in their classroom decoration – one even drew a giant pelican on her storefront window and one teacher used planes and clouds to welcome her class in the atmosphere corridor. We saw students getting cozy in their window box reading nooks. Students climbed all over their fantastic furniture. Many students sported awesome t-shirts with their grade level icons. Teachers took the students on tours, always stopping at the slide, and explaining that Principal Russo wanted to make sure each one of them got to go down the slide on their first day.
It was really nice to be there to lend hand as well. Ken swept the student bus drop off entrance. Brittney did a little problem solving to ensure the kids didn’t hurt their bottoms when they landed at the end of the slide. Philip helped prop open doors and move furniture to correct locations. Doug and Wyck helped ensure the school’s flag poles were complete with flags for the first day. I tried to document the morning while enjoying the atmosphere too. I look forward to seeing this great school be enjoyed for many years to come.
A video documenting opening day at Arlington Public Schools can be viewed here.