Duluth students talk about new Lester Park Elementary SchoolThis fall, many of Duluth’s students, teachers and parents are experiencing the opening of six schools which are either new or which have undergone drastic updating. One of them, Lester Park Elementary, opened last Thursday while heavy equipment continued landscaping the grounds.
By: Pete Langr, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
This fall, many of Duluth’s students, teachers and parents are experiencing the opening of six schools which are either new or which have undergone drastic updating. One of them, Lester Park Elementary, opened last Thursday while heavy equipment continued landscaping the grounds.
When visiting the school, it doesn’t take long to catch a sense of excitement about the new facility. Principal Bonnie Wolden rattles off a long list of amenities and points out that the old Lester Park, when it was built nearly 100 years ago, was “the newest, most modern, up-to-date facility that people could imagine.”
Now, she’s excited to be able to say the same thing of the new building.
“This changes the way teachers can teach,” she says.
Fourth-grade teacher Mary Ostazeski can barely contain her excitement, reflecting that “When I first came to (the old) Lester Park I just said ‘ooh.’” (Pronounce that as a disappointed “ooh.”) “This (new) building reflects who we are as a staff … I love the staff, the students, the parent involvement. Now the school matches.”
Other staff, listening in, nodded and spoke their agreement.
Students and teachers had more to say. Here it is, in their own words, with pictures.
Keirstin Lisell, 3rd grade: “It was very big, beautiful, it was clean, everything was perfect … “people can have space so they can just walk without having to say ‘excuse me.’”
Mary Ostazeski, 4th-grade teacher: “The building feels so clean and shiny, there’s this excitement in the building, you can just feel it. Our old building, it was kind of cave-like ... I feel like I’m a brand new teacher.”
Owen Manchester, 4th grade: “The gym is bigger than the other one. In the old gym I didn’t think I had a bunch of space to move around.”
On the plumbing facilities:
Cami Fischer, 5th grade: (In the new building we have) “water fountains in the rooms.” (In the old facility) “you had to walk a long way for warm water.”
Anna Chelseth, 5th grade: (In the old building) “the bathrooms were dark and when you turned on a faucet everything rumbled and it (made) a high-pitched noise.”
Christy Severn, speech therapist: “This is a million times better. I had a leaky ceiling in the old room, when the toilet flushed. (By the) end of the year I just boxed up my stuff and moved it into the front of the room.”
On being handicapped-accessible:
Anne Krafthefer, 5th grade teacher: “I had parents who had physical disabilities who could never get to their child’s classroom.”
Mary Ostazeski, 4th grade teacher: (Quoting a parent): “This is so exciting that my parents (the student’s grandparents) will be able to come’…It is wonderful to be inclusive to everyone.”
On the new practice of having kids from multiple grade levels have recess and lunch at the same time:
Mary Ostazeski, 4th grade teacher: “It is so good to have our older kids caring for our younger kids at recess.”