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New Pangborn Elementary offers 'amazing' opportunities

July 28, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

This is the first of a three-part series of stories on Washington County Public Schools' new elementary schools.

Today, and on two subsequent Mondays, we will offer a glimpse into the new schools, along with photos, videos and other information.

Today: Pangborn Elementary School

Aug. 4: Rockland Woods Elementary School

Aug. 11: Maugansville Elementary School




HAGERSTOWN -- Sunlight streams through large windows on the school's upper floor and into an open common area.

This would be the perfect place for couches and perhaps even some artificial plants, Richard Gehrman said.

Looking at a patio, the Pangborn Elementary School principal said he can picture chairs filled with students holding an English class outside on a nice day.

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While those details have not yet been finalized, Gehrman said it's "amazing" to have these opportunities for students now that a new 85,336-square-foot building is nearing completion. The new Pangborn Elementary was built next to the previous school, which was 53 years old. The new school opens for students in August, along with a larger Maugansville Elementary, and Rockland Woods Elementary, built south of Hagerstown.

Demolition began last week on the old building that the students outgrew over time. The school was nearly 140 percent over capacity last year, with students spread between the main building and 11 portable classrooms.

Classrooms

The new Pangborn Elementary is about 35,000 square feet larger than the previous school, and has 31 regular classrooms. Students in grades kindergarten through five will be enrolled there when school starts Aug. 20. Gehrman said there are classrooms for prekindergarten students, who could be enrolled in the future.

Classrooms for upper grades are about 1,000 square feet, and younger students will have about 800 square feet, said Traci Coldsmith, project manager for Washington County Public Schools.

The classrooms are pale yellow and tan, and are filled with new desks and chairs. There are shelves in each classroom and cubbies for the younger students.

Each classroom also has its own bathroom, Coldsmith said.

Prekindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade classrooms are on the first floor. Students in grades two through five will have classes on the second floor. Fourth- and fifth-graders will use lockers that are on that floor, as well.

Each classroom has 10-foot ceilings, an intercom and lights that are activated when a room is occupied and turn off shortly after a classroom empties.

There will be six kindergarten teachers when school begins and five teachers for each of the other grades. There is one science room that can be used by all grades, Gehrman said. There are two specially designed music rooms with soundproof walls and an art room with a built-in kiln.

Media center

The main entrance to Pangborn Elementary School for students will be through the entrance closest to the bus loop. That area, for the drop-off and pickup of students, will be built where the old Pangborn Elementary now stands.

For visitors or students coming to school after the start of the day, the entrance will be nearest the main office, which has added security in place, Gehrman said. All visitors must ring a buzzer to be admitted to the main office, then sign in there. All visitors to the school will pass through the main office before entering the school.

The lobby has terrazzo flooring accented with gold, black and red - the colors of the Maryland flag. Gehrman said the school will maintain its mascot, the panther, and its previous school colors, which were black and gold. However, red was added to the mix, he said.

Once in the lobby, the media center is straight ahead, and includes a computer lab that will offer 35 computers with Internet access. There also is a workroom for media center personnel and an office. Thirty-inch-high bookshelves will line the walls of the media center, which is carpeted, said the school's business manager, Angela Allen.

The media center leads to an outdoor patio, which overlooks two playgrounds and a blacktop area with basketball hoops.

At the old school, Gehrman said students had a blacktop to use during recess, but soon it was "eaten up with portables." The school also had only one playground, which will remain and be called Memorial Playground, Coldsmith said.

Two new playgrounds can be seen from the outdoor patio: one for upper grades and one for younger students.

While the southern portion of the old school is being demolished to make way for the school's bus loop and parent pickup and drop-off space, ball fields will be built on the northern part of the old school.

Coldsmith said work on the fields is expected to be complete by mid-October.

"You're still going to see some construction work (into the school year)," she said.

Gym/cafeteria

Coldsmith said there was an emphasis when building the school to include storage that was lacking before.

"We didn't have room for anything," Gehrman said. "We were in the hallways with stuff."

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