Rockland Woods Elementary ready for students

August 04, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Editor's note: This is the second of a three-part series of stories on Washington County Public Schools' new elementary schools.

On three subsequent weeks we are offering a glimpse into the new schools, along with photos, videos and other information. The first story ran last Monday and the last runs Aug. 11.

Today: Rockland Woods Elementary School.

Aug. 11: Maugansville Elementary School.

July 28: Pangborn Elementary School.

HAGERSTOWN -- Pam Rubisch spent part of last week unloading boxes filled with 12,000 new books that she selected for the media collection at Washington County's newest school.

Other online and electronic items also will be offered at Rockland Woods Elementary, said Rubisch, the school's media specialist.

And when students select books to read, they can climb onto a reading area in the library that overlooks an outdoor courtyard. The blue carpet, and what appear to be blue waves painted along the library walls are meant to give the media center an "underwater theme" that exists throughout the school, said Principal Kathy Stiles.


The floor in the school's cafeteria is blue, as are some of the classroom walls. Shades of green also are seen throughout.

"I'm going to get a big aquarium (for the media center) eventually," Rubisch said.

Stiles said that students, who go back to school Aug. 20, will select the school's mascot and colors. Green, blue and white are obvious choices, she said, since they are the colors of the high schools most Rockland Woods students eventually will enroll in - South Hagerstown and Williamsport.

The school

The main entrance to the 85,277-square-foot building is near the parent drop-off area. When the school day begins at 7:35 a.m., that entrance and another near the bus loop, are locked, and visitors must enter nearest the main office.

Michael Whiteley, project manager for the $22.7 million school, said that is for additional security. There also are 16 motion-activated security cameras in hallways throughout the school that are monitored from the main office.

Once entering the school nearest the main office, the full-sized gymnasium is on the left, which is separated from the cafeteria by a partition. There also is a stage with lighting and sound equipment in the cafeteria.

Whiteley said that Rockland Wood Elementary School's gymnasium will be used after school hours by community recreation groups. That is also the case at new buildings for Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools because of grant funding that was received by all three schools.

The gymnasium leads to an outdoor blacktop area with four basketball hoops. There also are fields for baseball and soccer, and a playground area with equipment for older students. A playground for younger students is at the front of the building.

In its first year, Rockland Woods will enroll about 450 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, Stiles said. A prekindergarten program could be added in the future.

The school's cafeteria leads to a central outdoor courtyard, which Stiles said would be an ideal place for students to eat lunch or hold class outside.

"I'm going to get some picnic tables to put out there," Stiles said.

Each of the school's 32 regular classrooms has its own bathroom and sink. Kindergarten and prekindergarten classrooms have additional large storage closets.

"They have a lot of additional stuff," Stiles said.

Kindergarten and prekindergarten classrooms are on the first floor and are about 1,000 square feet each, and students in first through fifth grade will have about 800 square feet.

Classrooms for second through fifth grades are on the school's second floor, along with a dedicated science lab.

While there will be no prekindergarten classes in the school's first year, Stiles said those classrooms will be used for other needs.


There are four Internet hook-ups in each classroom, and Stiles said each class will have access to four computers, along with two rotating sets of 15 laptop computers.

Each classroom also has an LCD projector, which is a type of video projector that displays video, images or computer data on a screen for students.

Rubisch had worked at Emma K. Doub Elementary, where the school had a focus on technology. Stiles said Rubisch will use those expertise at Rockland Woods, where there will be electronic database in the library instead of paper card catalogs. Students also will use an online encyclopedia instead of books, and have home access to the information, Rubisch said.

Instead of books-on-tape, Rockland Woods students will check out MP3 players with books downloaded to the devices.

A computer lab in the library has 30 computers.

Stiles said she also has ordered a classroom set of Palm Pilots - electronic organizers - for students.

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