This pre-kindergarten, primary school, and central administration building enhances the emotional wellbeing of the district’s youngest learners and its administrators.
Built in two phases over nearly 10 years, the new school’s arms envelop its occupants, providing feelings of comfort, calm, and protection. It celebrates light and transparency, with abundant natural light and views.
The new school is designed with advanced safety features throughout. It provides space for up to 750 students in pre-kindergarten through second grade, and the district’s administrative offices. Administrators requested areas to provide refuge during extreme wind events. The building features 20 small storm shelters for quick access by younger students, and one large shelter open to the community. The safe rooms double as cubby halls located between classrooms, providing storage for student coats and teaching materials and clearing space within classrooms for active learning. Knowing these safe spaces are conveniently available contributes to a calm environment, enhancing student learning.
The welcome center greets visitor with a dual-sided entry that allows for friendly but secure access. Glass offers visibility, supervision, and a welcoming introduction to the school. Vestibules act as sallyports providing an extra layer of protection. Teachers in the new school noted a lowering of stress and anxiety in students and themselves after moving from an older building with small rooms and dark corridors.
Rather than design phase two as an extension of the first, the design team rotated the circulation into a courtyard configuration, providing an entirely enclosed secure playground in the center. The courtyard features a variety of multipurpose play areas with access for emergency vehicles, first responders, and maintenance. Views to the courtyard also provide for simple wayfinding inside the building.
Middletown Prairie Elementary was recognized and presented at the National School Board Association in reference to the safety features throughout the school.