Affectionately dubbed "the village," the portable classrooms of Lincoln Elementary School went through their first test Wednesday.
Made up of third-and-fourth grade students, the village connects to the main school building via the gymnasium. Located on the old tennis courts, from the outside the village looks more akin to a trailer park than a group of classrooms. However, the furnished inside shows outer appearances can be deceiving.
"We have a lot of training and logistics to do with our students and our staff in getting to and from the village in a safe manner," said Katie Russo, principal of Lincoln Elementary School. "... There is an outside door which remains locked all the time. Our gym door also remains locked all the time."
Britta Johnson, fourth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, teaches students in one of the portable classrooms on Wednesday. A locker area is pictured at right.
P-J photos by Mallory Diefenbach
She also mentioned in addition to the "swipe card" each teacher carries at all times, each classroom has two hall passes. Children do not travel alone with these hall passes but in groups of two to three.
"They are being trained right now in how to safely leave the village and enter the school," Russo said. "... That way they are learning also how to make sure the door behind them shuts and locks, so the village always remains secure."
Following a metal, raised pathway - which will be weather-proofed before winter arrives - the path into the village leads to a simple hallway. This hallway connects to the eight classrooms, bathrooms and locker areas. Morning announcements can be heard in the village, and fourth grade teacher Britta Johnson said they finally have air conditioning which they can control- an improvement from the hot classrooms in the summer in the main building.
"Honestly, it wasn't too bad. I was a little nervous at first having to pack up my whole classroom, but the movers did a good job," Johnson said in regard to the relocation. She said the teachers were alerted at the end of the school year, giving them the summer to get everything in order. The teachers also had a week at the end of August to set everything up. "The staff here did a fabulous job. So, I got all my stuff here, (and) was all putting it back together."
In addition to the eight teachers, 89 third-grade students and 67 fourth-grade students make up the residents of the village. Each classroom is fully equipped with necessities classrooms in the main building have. Work on the village began in the middle of July and finished in the last week of August.
Students will remain in the village for the duration of the school year. The village will remain on the tennis courts for an extra year for any Jamestown school to utilize as they go through their own renovations.
"They really are set up to be a permanent structure," Russo said. "They won't be permanent as far as I know, but at least for the next two years."
The necessity for the village came from Lincoln Elementary School's $8 million capital improvement plan. The rest of the project entails giving a modern facelift to the school. In addition to air conditioning, the elementary school will have a new auditorium, cafeteria and, gymnasium as well as upgraded bathrooms, hallways, entry points and doors. The project is scheduled to be complete in September 2015.