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Cottonwood undergoes an extreme makeover

A week ago, Cottonwood Elementary School was full of the hustle and bustle of children actively learning. Now, it looks more the set of an extreme makeover TV show.

“It’s amazing how fast everything came down,” said Principal Jane Chapin, watching construction workers dismantle what was a kindergarten classroom. “Last week, there were children everywhere.”

The school entered a final phase of construction last week in an estimated $8 million project that will bring the school up code for the Americans with Disabilities Act and, as a bonus, give the teachers really cool gizmos.

Each classroom is being equipped with state-of-the art presentation equipment — ELMOs (not named after the Sesame Street character) — that can be used as both an overhead and movie projector. Each classroom also comes with a teaching board, a sliding board combines a dry erase chalkboard and storage space for teachers.

The final renovations are being done this summer on the school’s kindergarten wing, library and special education classrooms. The project is being funded through a matching funds grant from the state. The Central Kitsap School District paid for its share through money saved from federal heavy-impact fees.

For Chapin, it is an exciting process two years in the making. Chapin has been at the school for 18 years — nine as a teacher and nine as an adminstrator — and said it’s like getting a new school.

The building is 28 years old, and once the heating and ventilation started to need repairs, it was just in time for a makeover, she said. The main idea behind the renovations is to make the existing floor space work better and to rewire the school to keep up with the technological needs of today’s learning environment.

For instance, the school was once known for a series of color-coded pipes that all led to the library.

“I’m sure that when this building was built, they were very cool,” Chapin said. Now, however, those pipes are being taken out and replaced with technological infrastructure to support the ELMOs and computers.

One of the biggest perks of the renovation, Chapin said, is that now the school will have it’s own Parent Teacher Association room, which has its own oven. The oven will come in handy for cookie baking and for hands-on baking lessons for the students, Chapin said.

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