Sulphur Springs Elementary School ushered in a new classroom building and a new playground in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday.
The project has been in the works for nearly a decade, with construction starting about two years ago. The new playground was designed to accommodate students of all ages and needs. Sulphur Springs Principal Eric Guerrero said this aspect was integral to its design.
“It was always about the kids and it had to make sure every kid, no matter what, could come and play, and it didn’t matter [what] the ability of the student [was],” said Guerrero. “To see when this thing finally came to be — all the kids, inclusive playing and it’s new… their smiles just don’t even come off their faces.”
Sulphur Springs School District Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi echoed Guerrero by saying that inclusion was a must when designing the new playground.
“We want to make sure every child has access,” said Kawaguchi. “We have a program for children with autism and we even made sure that the play apparatus was placed strategically to support the children with special needs.”
Following speeches at the opening assembly, which included awards and songs sung by the kids in Sulphur Springs’ music program, the ribbon was cut in front of the new classroom building by board of trustees member Shelley Weinstein and Denis DeFigueiredo, president of the board.
Weinstein said she was initially apprehensive about the new classroom when it was proposed by Kawaguchi, but that now it was standing before her, she couldn’t argue with the results.
“I didn’t like where it was, it was right in the middle of the playground that my kids loved so much, by the outdoor stage that my kids love so much. And then I started working with the school staff or architect or advisors and we got this beautiful building,” said Weinstein. “It’s amazing to me, it looks like it’s been here forever. The playground is amazing and it will give years and years and years of fun to our children.”
While the outside might look like it’s always been at the school, its interior is ultra-modern and geared toward maximizing post-pandemic student interactions and learning environments. It features one long hall, flanked by classrooms with double-glass sliding doors. All furniture, both in the common area and in the classroom, is movable to accommodate different teaching strategies.
“This has always been part of our vision for this campus to have modern education-friendly and oriented classrooms as well as added security,” said DeFigueiredo. “And a wonderful collaboration area, to capitalize on everything that we know about education and students’ interactions and things like that.”
Parents seemed equally thrilled that modern education theories were being practiced and implemented at their children’s elementary school.
“Well, it’s just a special to see because we’ve been here since TK,” said Scarlet Montoya, a parent of a third-grader at Sulphur Springs. “It meant a lot and the kids really enjoy it. I mean that when they got back, they were so excited to be in the new building. So it’s exciting and we’re happy to be part of this community.”