6/11/19 Elon Elementary School: Everything you want to know

The new Elon Elementary School’s multipurpose auditorium is for sports and presentations.

Robert Thomason / Times-News

The new Elon Elementary School’s multipurpose auditorium is for sports and presentations.

Elon Elementary School: Everything you want to know
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 6/11/19     
Reprinted with permission.  

ELON — Elon Elementary has that new school smell.

The brand new facility at 720 Walker Road opened for tours Monday, June 10, as Elon University and the Alamance-Burlington School System participated in a key exchange ceremony to celebrate its near-completion.

Wide-open hallways, unfilled offices, empty cubbies and squeaky clean bathrooms will soon be taken over by students moving from the current Elon Elementary School at 510 E Haggard Ave.

Here’s what those students, and their parents, can expect:

The roughly 95,000 square-foot facility is modeled after George C. Simkins Jr. Elementary School in Greensboro, and can accommodate 1,000 students in core areas like the lunchroom and combination gymnasium-auditorium. Classroom capacity is 750, but there’s space to add on in the future.

When asked why Simkins provided the perfect model, Assistant Superintendent for Operations Todd Thorpe said, “You can stand here in the middle and monitor what’s going on in the main hall, or you could stand in front of a hall and monitor that hall and the main hall at the same time. It’s fairly easy to monitor.”

All of the playground equipment is in one spot, and each wing leads out to that same area, which is another benefit.

Out front, there are approximately 150 parking spaces. During drop-off and pick-up times, parents will wait in two lines that can accommodate a total of 100 cars. The current Elon facility can accommodate a line of only 35 cars, which causes traffic to back up on East Haggard Avenue.

Buses will gather in a separate lot and loop around the back of the building, keeping car riders and bus riders separate and diminishing the stress of getting kids where they need to go.

The school’s wide front entrance includes a “safety vestibule,” which leaves guests no choice but to check in at the front office before walking into the school. Elon is also the only ABSS school currently wired for security cameras, though that’s factored into the school system’s seven-year facilities plan.

On the floor of the lobby, there’s a large white, maroon and grey compass. It represents Elon’s global school designation and provides the first lesson for incoming kindergarteners by pointing to true north — which isn’t straight ahead.

“We decided to do that so it would be a teaching moment for kids,” Thorpe said.

Each of the 38 classrooms is outfitted with cubbies for students and storage for teachers, as well as motion-activated LED lights that give off a clean, white glow.

Where grade levels were scattered throughout the former building, they’ll now be organized into neat wings designed for different ages. For example, kindergarten-thru-third-grade students will have access to individual bathrooms as well as the community bathrooms.

The media center is a large, open space with a wall of windows ready to accommodate modern amenities like maker space.

And the cafeteria is air-conditioned, which is a rarity for ABSS.

History of the trade

It took a little over one year to build the school, but the trade deal that led to its construction was years in the making.

Preliminary discussions between Elon University and ABSS began in early 2016.

The school system would give the university the current Elon Elementary building — and, more important, the land it sits on — in return for a brand new school to be built 1.5 miles away.

Elon Elementary’s currently facility opened in the early 1950s and was last renovated in 1989. Its tax value is around $7 million (where the land value alone is roughly $1.5 million) and building a new elementary school would have cost ABSS $20 million, so the deal was a no-brainer.

The Alamance-Burlington Board of Education voted 6–0 Sept. 25, 2017, to move forward with the trade, and construction began the next spring.

It will take around seven days to move furniture into the school, Thorpe said Monday, but a month to set up smart boards and other features. Also the playground needs to be built.

He anticipates the new school will officially open its doors in mid-July.