By Roxanne Squires
MANCHESTER, Conn. – Waddell School opened its doors to 530 students in kindergarten through fourth grade after completing a year-long $33.6 million renovation as part of a districtwide renovation and modernization plan called SMARTR.
The 20,000-square-foot enlargement includes designated STEM learning spaces, art and music rooms, expanded common areas, and indoor and outdoor eating areas. The classrooms are all supplied with interactive technology and boast brightly painted walls with large windows installed to produce natural daylight.
The most notable feature included in the renovation is a $20,000 slide located in the center of the lobby connecting the first and second floor – the center of a debate regarding safety, cost and the overall necessity of the unique design element.
Stuart Wolf, the principal of Waddell School, however said that the slide represents the way they want students to think of the school, according to a local report from NBC Connecticut.
“Learning is fun. Learning is exciting. School is exciting. I want to look forward to going to school every day,” Wolf said.
According to the Hartford Courant, Jim Farrell, the school district spokesman, said that some of the teachers plan to use the slide as a part of the student’s transportation from one place to another — allowing kids to drop from the second-floor art room to the cafeteria on the first floor.
The Waddell School building is the first of the district’s elementary schools to be completed under SMARTR. The $84 million school project also includes adding fifth grade to Bennet Academy and the current revamp and expansion of Verplanck Elementary School, which is expected for completion by the 2019-20 school year. The project hopes to update schools in the region to a 21st century learning environment.
The school was designed by TSKP Studio of Hartford, Conn. Students began classes on September 4th.
Reports by NBC Connecticut and the Hartford Courant contributed to this story.