The scene was all-too familiar to many elementary-school students returning to class on Sept. 6: desks grouped neatly in clusters, bulletin boards decorated with brightly colored butcher paper and books lining the shelves.
But for approximately 200 elementary students in the Edmonds School District, the school they walked into on Tuesday was different than the one they attended last year.
The school boundary changes approved by the Edmonds School Board last year went into effect this week. In addition to those shifts, Lynnwood and Spruce elementaries have dealt with a number of additional changes since June.
Both Lynnwood and Spruce have shifted from serving only a portion of the elementary grades (Lynnwood was grades 3-6 and Spruce was grades kindergarten-3) to serving as K-6 elementary schools.
The transition took a lot of time and effort, but both school principals look forward to the change and new experiences.
“It’s a new beginning,” said Lynnwood principal David Koyama.
Lynnwood and Spruce had been intermediate and primary schools for 20 years, so this week was the first time younger students attended Lynnwood and older students attended Spruce since 1985.
Several adjustments had to be made to accommodate the new students.
Each school’s staff had to shift so that there were multiple teachers for each grade level, which meant some teachers are starting the week teaching a new grade. Spruce Principal Lynda Tripp said they made sure each grade level had at least one teacher with a year’s worth of experience in that grade.
Spruce needed teaching and classroom materials for older students, and Lynnwood likewise needed resources for the younger students.
The two schools swapped some materials and also received new texts and supplies purchased by the school district.
Each library contained books geared for the grade-levels previously served by the schools, so a huge overhaul of both resources took place, beginning during last year.
“The librarians worked very hard – it probably took half a year,” Koyama said.
Each library had to make room for books for the new grade levels, and the schools ended up swapping boxes full of books. But in addition, each school also received support from the school district to purchase brand new library books.
Tripp said the Spruce library received about 1,900 brand new library books.
Spruce Elementary was built in the 1960s to be a K-6 school, but parts of the facility last year weren’t suitable for older children.
“The kids get bigger in every generation,” Tripp said, and seeing the height of the bathroom stalls at Spruce would have supported that thought.
The stall heights needed to be extended, and there were other odds and ends that required alterations, such as the addition of basketball hoops on the playground.
With so many adjustments, both Koyama and Tripp have worked hard with their staffs to make the changes as seamless as possible for the students.
“We decided since we had so many shifts, it was really important to get families in here as soon as possible,” Tripp said.
Families new to the schools have been receiving newsletters and updates since last year, and both schools had ice cream socials last week for parents and children.
It’s important to make the students feel comfortable in their new surroundings, Tripp said.
Many students who previously attended Spruce are now enrolled at Lynnwood, Lynndale and Meadowdale elementaries. A number of children who attended Oak Heighs Elementary last year are now students at Spruce.
With such a change, it will take a little time to get to know all of the new students and parents, Tripp said, but she looks forward to it.
“Kids are kids, they’ve all got a need for learning,” Tripp said.