The Clemens Primary School learning environment continues to evolve and two projects coming up in the near future serve as an example of what second-year Principal Abby Couture has envisioned for the campus that educates preschoolers, kindergartners and first-graders.
During the 2017-18 academic year, Clemens Primary added a sensory room in the front office area to provide a calming environment for students that need to take a break. This spring, a unique interactive mural will go up on the room’s walls.
“The kids can come in, they can feel it and interact — it will be kinda cool,” Couture said about the room, which has become known as "Neverland."
For example, the plans call for one of the walls to feature an image that includes an otter made of fur, a fish made of mermaid fabric and actual river rocks. A painting of a tree that grows onto the ceiling will be featured on another wall and it will include a bookshelf and a lantern. And an image of a fire with smoke will highlight the third wall with cotton and wood paneling with glitter epoxy layers.
Finally, the room will also feature a leaf pillow pile with leaves sewn from fleece.
“These leaves — we’re asking volunteers to make these leaves — are going to be filled with flaxseed, chamomile and lavender so that they smell good and the kids can jump in them or throw them around,” Couture said.
The Wells Family Memorial Scholarship, created in memory of the late Kathy Wells, donated $1,500 to help pay for artist Annie Blem to come in and create the mural.
Blem, whose past work includes a mural at the Oregon Children’s Museum in Portland, is donating about half of the project’s cost. Couture said the plan is to start the mural the week before spring break.
Another project in the works involves a paved track in the shape of a figure-8 that would be located in the vicinity of the school playground in between trees where soccer goals are currently located.
“The idea is that the kids will ride those four-wheel pedal cars around the track and learn how to park and there will be stop signs and all of those kinds of things out there,” Couture said. “We’ll save our gym floors because it’ll be outside and it spreads out our playground a little bit, too, to make it safer and more fun and interactive for the kids.”
The track project has been organized through the Clemens Primary parent club with help from Adam Hernandez, a student who is heading up the project while pursuing an Eagle Scout badge.
“We’re at the point right now where we’ve figured out that we want to do concrete and not pavement or asphalt and now we’re breaking it up into costs of different things to see what kind of people might donate time and see how much money we’re going to need to come up with,” Couture said. “We’re hoping that we can do it, but it’s sounding like more and more like people are stepping forward to help us finish the project.”
The preferred timeline is to build the track this coming summer. Couture said the project cost runs in the neighborhood of $17,000 although that cost can come down significantly through the help and donations of various people.