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New year, new building: Lincoln Elementary opens its doors for the first day of school
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New year, new building: Lincoln Elementary opens its doors for the first day of school

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The students of Lincoln Elementary in Corvallis walked into their brand new building Wednesday morning for the first day of school, reuniting with friends and taking in the blue and orange interior that they will soon become used to seeing every day.

The reconstruction of the dual language immersion school finished this summer, one of the projects funded by the Corvallis School District’s $200 million facilities bond that was approved by voters in May 2018. The building has a focus on sustainable architecture and welcoming collaborative spaces for all. The playground is still being constructed in the lot where the old building stood a few feet away.

Shahnaz Sahnow, who creates the master schedule every year for the school, said her job was made easy for the first time with the construction of this new building. In the past, the schedule has always had to include time for tables and chairs to be moved to the gym for lunch, but now each activity has its own dedicated space.

“I was master scheduling a couple of weeks ago, and there was this moment where I was like, ‘Wait, that's it,’” Sahnow said. “The gym always gets to be the gym. The music room always gets to be the music room.”

Students will be eating lunch outside until COVID-19 restrictions lessen. Once allowed to eat inside, students will eat in a cafeteria resembling a kid-friendly restaurant, with booths, countertops, stools and tables to choose from. There are separate containers for trash, recycling and compost, with informational signs so the students understand where to put things and why.

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The bathrooms have an all-gender, open concept, with individual stalls not separated into boys and girls, and the sink area out in the open so staff members can monitor activity.

Alison Ocampo eagerly waited to meet her fifth graders in the doorway of her upstairs classroom. She has been at Lincoln since 2009, and this is her fifth year as a teacher.

Her classroom is full of rainbow flags, colorful wallpaper and posters of diverse women in history to make all students feel welcome.

“I think the environment is really important,” Ocampo said. “My goal this year is to just start with having kids feel welcome, comfortable and safe in the space. And then eventually, once they get into that safety, then they can open up and learn.”

Ayla Cusack, Amelia Jevousek and Indy Lieuallen settled into their seats after lining up at the sink for daily handwashing. They chatted about their summers and decorated name tags before class started.

“I'm just excited that I'm back in a new school in a new classroom in fifth grade,” Jevousek said. “I wish I was in second grade still, so I could get some more years here.”

Joanna Mann covers education for Mid-Valley Media. She can be contacted at 541-812-6076 or Joanna.Mann@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter via @joanna_mann_. 

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