By Tina Alvey
People curious about what lies behind the sleek modern exterior of the new Rainelle Elementary School are getting the chance to find out for themselves, as the facility opens its doors for a limited number of guided tours.
More than 20 people were already waiting in the school’s lobby when the first tour of the state-of-the-art facility got under way Thursday afternoon.
Special education teacher Jane Hall led one group through the spacious, air conditioned school, saying, “This is my 37th year (of teaching) and to be in a building like this — it’s wonderful.”
The two-story structure serves the educational needs of approximately 235 pre-kindergarten through fifth- grade students. It was constructed just behind the original school building, which fronts Kanawha Avenue.
The first floor contains the cafeteria, kitchen, gymnasium, art room, music room, library, computer lab, offices and spacious storage rooms. In addition, classrooms for pre-K and first-grade children, complete with private restrooms, along with several specialized classrooms, are included on the ground level.
The second floor is the domain of “upper level classes,” Hall explained, noting the “upper level” starts with second grade.
All of the classrooms are cheerful, decorated in bright colors and flooded with natural light from the ample windows. Every classroom contains kid-sized desks or tiny chairs and tables, and each room is equipped with four computers for student use.
That abundance of technology is Principal John Lewis’ pride and joy in the new school, although he is quietly pleased with all of the facility’s amenities.
“It’s not the building; it’s the infrastructure,” Lewis said when asked to choose a favorite feature.
Construction of the new school was made possible through a $37.7 million bond package approved by Greenbrier County voters in November 2008. Passage of the bond leveraged an additional $10.6 million award from the West Virginia School Building Authority to allow the county Board of Education to complete major additions to Greenbrier West High School.
Additional projects included in the package were construction of a new Lewisburg Elementary School and an auxiliary gymnasium at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, along with health and safety updates to Smoot Elementary School.
Students, teachers, staff and administrators made the move in February from the antiquated ca. 1923 Rainelle school building at the front of the lot to their new digs on a slightly higher elevation to the rear of the property.
After school lets out for the summer, the old building is slated to be razed.
Tours of the new school will continue today at 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. Additional tours are scheduled for 4 and 4:30 p.m. on May 29, the day dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremonies will be conducted at the site.
E.T. Boggess, Architects, and MBAJ Architecture designed the new school, with input from a school-based design team. Henry Breeden served as the clerk of the works for the project.
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