LYNNWOOD — Hailee Brodrick and Kendra Smith walked under the canoe-shaped overhang jutting from the roof of the new Lynnwood High School.
The sophomores gazed through a wall of windows into the school’s two-story commons area. Then they pulled back the doors and joined nearly 1,500 classmates breaking in the new school with high fives, back-to-school hugs and dashes to class.
After years of planning and construction, Lynnwood High School opened Tuesday on a new campus. The $100 million school is east of I-5 in a residential area just outside Lynnwood city limits. It features artificial-grass ball fields, large windows that minimize the need for electric lights and a commons area called an agora, for the ancient Greek word for marketplace, that stretches the entire length of the building.
As she joined throngs of students rushing into classrooms for the first day of school, Brodrick hoped the school would usher in a new era for Lynnwood High School.
“Our sports teams aren’t very great, so I think it’s like a new start,” the basketball player said. “Maybe we’ll be better.”
The old Lynnwood High School was the last of the Edmonds School District’s four main high schools to be redone. Opened in 1971, the school was built during the district’s population boom from relatively cheap materials that were designed to last for 25 years, district spokeswoman DJ Jakala said. With a flat roof and breezeways connecting freestanding concrete and brick buildings, the old school was modeled after Californian architecture.
Washington rains flooded the school, and pumps were needed to keep standing water out.
After failing to pass several bonds to rebuild the school, voters approved a $140 million bond measure in 2006.
“We needed to get out of the other school,” senior Bryan Johnson said. “It was breaking and falling apart.”
Johnson said he actually pulled the car over and screamed with delight the first time he saw the new high school.
“It’s overwhelming because it’s hard to believe I’m a senior and now I’m at a brand new school,” he said, standing in the agora Tuesday. “It’s a lot different than being a junior at the old school.”
On Tuesday, there was more than the usual back-to-school confusion. Traffic backed up leading to the high school, and parking lots were full with parents and students who weren’t sure where to go. Inside, students wandered the hallways with green-colored campus maps, well after the 7:20 a.m. bell, searching for their first class. Though many toured the campus over the summer, most hadn’t seen their class schedules until they arrived at school Tuesday morning.
“I feel like a transfer student,” sophomore Michelle Nguyen said, as she hurried through the halls, looking for AP European History. “I don’t know where anything is and a lot of the faces I don’t recognize.”
While muted shades of brown, yellow, green and purple cover most of the walls, the school isn’t finished yet. As classes began, construction crews smoothed sidewalks and hammered away inside the theater, which is behind schedule and probably won’t be complete until November, Jakala said. Moving boxes are stacked in seminar rooms and directions for wood paneling are scribbled on some unpainted wall sections.
Nonetheless, watching the empty building fill up with shouting students, principal Dave Golden experienced the same back-to-school feeling he gets every first day of school.
“It feels right to have the kids here,” he said. “The fact that everyone is in their room right now for first period, that’s pretty good. So exactly 20 minutes into first period, it feels pretty much like the first day.”