STANWOOD, Wash. — It’s been a dramatic week for the staff at the newly built Stanwood High School in Snohomish County.
This week Principal Christine Del Pozo watched the demolition of the former school while welcoming back a very small portion of students to begin in-person learning.
Students who have special needs, require language assistance and students whose families are experiencing homelessness are back to the classroom this week. That's around 60 students.
Teachers have been moving into their classrooms and Del Pozo says around 25 teachers are coming in daily and several are teaching online students from their new classrooms.
Until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted the massive student body of more than 1,200 will continue to learn virtually. The new school replaces the original campus that was built in 1971.
The building was designed with safety measures in mind. A big part of the new design is having all of the students in one building that features a single entrance that locks each morning when school begins.
Lockers are also mostly a thing of the past. Only a few dozen are available. That's another safety effort as the school is designed with massive open spaces and emergency situations in mind.
The school itself is around 260,000 square feet and has state-of-the-art facilities like a wood and metal shop, performance theater, and a multi-level gymnasium.
The construction pays tribute to the past with a two-story wall where much of the original gym wood flooring is displayed vertically.
Del Pozo says the hallways alone each stretch “around the length of two football fields.”
While the school is mostly empty for now, the staff is anxiously preparing to welcome back the student when the timing is right.
Stanwood High isn’t the alone in opeing amid a pandemic. The district's alternative school buildings on Church Creek Campus was also just completed in the fall.
The Church Creek Campus is currently operating on a hybrid model and welcomes a portion of students into the buildings.
Principal Ryan Ovenell says it was certainly anticlimactic to open the new campus under the pandemic but now sees the experience as a “soft opening.”
The Church Creek Campus is home to alternative schools including Lincoln Hill High School, Lincoln Academy and Saratoga School, an assisted homeschool program.
Stanwood High School and Church Creek Campus together cost $147.5 million.