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Move into new Perham elementary school complete

Classrooms in the fourth-grade wing at Heart of the Lakes Elementary school were built around a common hub that each teacher may use in the course of a school day. The area was designed for a variety of uses. Debbie Irmen/Focus1 / 5
Four-year-old teacher Sarah Ogroske works with Isabelle Mondt and Beckham Bunkowske in their new classroom in the Adventures Preschool wing at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School. Debbie Irmen/Focus2 / 5
Fourth graders at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School in Perham take advantage of the new gym for physical education classes. Debbie Irmen/Focus3 / 5
Fourth graders at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School moved from portable classrooms into a new wing built for them as part of a the construction referendum that passed in 2015. Debbie Irmen/Focus4 / 5
Sofia Gastelum moved through a flexible tunnel in the new boost-up space for preschoolers at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School. Students started classes in the new space Monday, Feb. 27. Debbie Irmen/Focus5 / 5

The move into the recently completed addition at the Heart of the Lakes Elementary school is done and students were in awe of their new classrooms, they said. And after a week using the new spaces they loved much of what designers, teachers and school officials had included with the students in mind.

Sitting in the common area outside the fourth-grade classrooms, three students ticked off what they liked about the new wing.

"I like the new gym," Ashton Hendrickson said. "I like the rubber floor, it's grippy so you don't slide around. And the cool painting on the wall."

He was referring to the large school mascot on the wall opposite of the entrance.

Persephone Garcia liked the desks, which are taller than the previous desks. Being one of the three shortest fourth-graders, she liked that they have a foot rest.

"It's easier to see when you are one of the short ones in the back of the class," she said, adding, "we can stand at the desks if we want."

Alexis Ritter likes having access to books.

"I like that all the books are together," she said.

Each teacher had shelves of books in their classrooms, so when a student wanted a particular book, they might have to go to another room to get it, she said.

Now the books are centrally located so students can easily access the entire collection.

The trio was also in awe of the smartboards incorporated into each classroom.

"I thought, 'wow, we have new TVs when I first walked in' " Persephone said.

Ashton also likes the bigger, wider lockers.

"Yeah, we can fit all our stuff in them, like when we have our clothes and sleeping bags for an overnight," Alexis said.

Indeed the three fourth-graders couldn't find much they didn't like about the new addition.

About 40 teachers assembled approximately 100 desks and common area furniture the Monday prior to move in, according to HOTL Principal Jen Hendrickson, which took about two hours.

"I thought it would take longer," she said. "I was pleasantly surprised.

What might have seemed like work was laced with the excitement of the move, she said.

"It was a really fun day of District staff coming together and building camaraderie," Hendrickson said. "We are excited for each other and the kids to be in the new spaces."

While the fourth-graders were on a ski trip Friday, Feb. 24, teachers moved boxes from their classrooms, packed up the night before, and with the help of about 45 high school students, parents and community volunteers carted them to their new classrooms. Over the weekend, they unpacked and decorated their rooms.

The Preschool move was a little more involved because the teachers were moving from one building to another, but with the help of Fred Sailer, who works at KLN and a truck provided by the company, everything was moved from one building to the other by about 11:15 a.m., Hendrickson said.

On Monday, Feb. 27, the only items left to move were a few student items, which the kids symbolically packed into small totes and moved themselves to their new classrooms.

"It was a seamless and exciting transition on Monday," Hendrickson said. "The kids were really excited. And the looks on the faces of the kids entering the gym for the first time was awesome. It was sort of like the first day of school all over again."