New West Pine School Is All Excitement
This is the second of two articles dealing with Moore County’s two newest schools. The first story was about Crain’s Creek Middle.
From kindergartners who are wide-eyed and curious, yet cautious, to seasoned “campus seniors” who are entering the fifth grade, West Pine Elementary School promises to be a school of not only love of learning, but also love and learning as well, according to new Principal Seth Powers.
“I’m all about relationships,” Powers said. “That is what makes a school successful, and that’s the key to leadership.
“It’s not about one group, and it’s not a one-way street. I personally build relationships with my staff, the students, parents and the community. Our teachers will build relationships, too — with the students, their families and the community. I’m looking forward to West Pine Elementary being a vibrant part of the community and forming partnerships with as many individuals and groups as possible so they can help us be the best we can be — and so we can, in turn, give back to the community.”
Powers came on board in his new role March 1 after serving nine years as principal of Highfalls Elementary. He quickly acknowledges that he has much work to do in the months prior to receiving the first students to call themselves West Pine Elementary Wildcat Cubs.
“Staffing is the biggest and most important task right now,” he said. “At present, I’m reviewing the applications of staff members and conducting interviews, and I’m excited about the great staff we’ll have at our new school.”
Addressing curricular needs is a daunting task as well, Powers said. He is working with district staff to determine materials that will be needed, placing orders and making sure that everything is in place for a smooth start to the new school year.
“After staffing is completed, I’ll be working closely with teachers to ensure that high quality instruction and learning opportunities will be synonymous with West Pine Elementary,” he said. “One of the great things about a new school is that there’s no such thing as ‘this is the way we’ve always done it.’
“You have an opportunity to build something from the ground up. Not only is the building new, but also the environment, the culture, the excitement among students and the community, the promise of great things happening and, yes, even the challenges will be new. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved.”
$9 Million Cost
West Pine Elementary’s cost is estimated to be about $9 million. The 69,700-square-foot facility will house 400 students and includes a media center, art room, music room and cafeteria/multi-purpose room, in addition to 27 classrooms.
Powers added that one of the school’s play areas has been designed to serve as a learning area with plants and trees that have been incorporated to integrate the science curriculum and other subjects, as well. This area will also be used to encourage students to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle.
West Pine Elementary has been constructed adjacent to West Pine Middle, utilizing acreage already owned by the school district for some of its campus.
Dr. Susan Purser, superintendent of the school system, said having the two campuses side by side provides many unique benefits for the schools.
“Great opportunities exist for shared learning,” she said. “Activities that span grade levels and allow students to learn by interacting with one another will reap many educational benefits. The ability to share facilities also provides broader opportunities for students.”
The school district is continuing to look closely at the increase in traffic with two schools on site.
“We began conversations with the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) long before construction ever began on the school,” Purser said. “West Pine Elementary’s campus has been designed to handle a large amount of traffic taking as much as possible away from Highway 211. Some immediate improvements are being made to the highway, and, of course, DOT has plans for future expansion of Highway 211 as well. Working closely with our parents, I’m sure we’ll be able to provide convenient and safe access and exiting for the campuses.”
Modern Features, Cost Savings
“Both of our new schools have incorporated as many ‘green’ features as possible,” said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Larry Upchurch.
He noted that skylights to utilize daylighting as much as possible, a north-south orientation of the facilities, energy-efficient glass, energy-efficient insulating materials, low-maintenance landscaping to conserve water and other ideas have been incorporated that will reduce operational costs.
Unlike older schools that require expensive upgrades to accommodate technology, Crain’s Creek Middle and West Pine Elementary have been designed to incorporate technology into daily instruction, as well as accommodating future needs.
SmartBoards, computers and other technology will be in each classroom, and sets of laptop computers will be available on carts to move about and share between classrooms.
“Our goal has been not only to provide adequate space for our growing student population, but to provide a modern, up-to-date learning environment that will meet the needs of our students as they prepare for successful and productive lives in the 21st century,” Upchurch said.
Purser added: “We are also proud of having built these two schools several million dollars under budget. Much of the credit goes to our staff, who have guided and overseen these projects in such a conservative manner, yet have not compromised our focus on a quality educational environment.”
Tim Lussier is adviser for community relations for the Moore County school system.
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