When Auburn School District planners began tossing about ideas for the reconstruction of Terminal Park Elementary, they settled on an important principle.
That is, while the building at 1101 D St. SE would be shiny, new, and equipped with the latest technology, it would also keep its name. Thus, it would maintain the historic ties it had with the railroad back in the days when railroad was king in Auburn.
Careful attention to that principle was everywhere one looked at Terminal Park’s grand opening on Sept. 26, as heads turned, fingers pointed, and smiles broke out at what the 2016 bond had wrought.
Not only were people impressed at the pretty red brick exterior and arched windows, they also dug the hand-railing on the second floor, the long, impressive hallways, the allotment of space.
Dr. Alan Spicciati, superintendent of the Auburn School District, noted that Terminal Park was the final school financed by the 2016 bond to chug into the station, on time and under budget.
“This is just a really special day for the Auburn School District community,” said Spicciati, all a-beam. “I like that all of our schools have their own character. On the inside, they have all of their own specs, the same number of square feet, but if you look carefully, you’ll see little touches like the arches on the hand-railing upstairs.”
The two-story school, which can accommodate 650 students, sits on six acres, with the main building coming in at 74,000 square feet and the covered play area at 3,300 square feet.
It offers parking for approximately 130 vehicles and 12 buses. It offers a synthetic turf playfield and a hard-surface play equipment area. The campus is secured with perimeter fencing. It has 32 general education classrooms and six specialty classrooms.
The total construction cost was $49 million. The architect was NAC Architecture Seattle and the general contractor and construction manager was Seattle-based Skanska.
Peggy Mayer, who came in from Renton to catch the grand opening, was impressed.
“I think it’s just wonderful that they took the architecture of the train theme and kept it in the school, and that it’s so open and well laid out. It has four staircases for safety … and the classes are nicely sized for the students.”
“I love the fact that they kept the sense of the railroad,” said former ASD Superintendent Linda Cowan. “Because the Terminal Park name has always been with this building. There are people here in the crowd who went to school here 75 years ago. And yet, it’s got that sense of history to it, even though it’s a brand-new building.”
“The community supported the bond issue and the school district brought it in on time and under budget,” Cowan added. “It’s amazing, kudos to all. The brick exterior made the old school still look good in a way, but as far as being able to add cables and modern electronics … The PE teacher here can talk through his Bluetooth and the kids can hear him!”
“It’s so beautiful, I think it was worth waiting for,” Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus said of the school. “The voters, the residents of Auburn showed that they truly value education when they voted to approve the funding package for all of these schools.”
Auburn School Board President Sheilia McLaughlin recalled that the road to Sept. 26 started with an ad-hoc committee that recommended the construction of two new elementary schools in 2015. In 2016, the Auburn community banded together and voted for the bond to rebuild six schools, and to add two new elementary schools and a middle school to that.
“Thank you to our community for voting for this bond and trusting us to carry out the fiduciary responsibility for your tax dollars, and to the crew and administration and everyone that made this come in on time and under budget,” said McLaughlin.
Mike Lawler, who attended Terminal Park starting in 1948 when it was only 4 years old and he was all of 5, was there to take it all in.
“This is the last school standing that I attended,” said Lawler. “I am so impressed.”
Nine-year-old Ruth Mironchuk, now in fourth grade, delivered her verdict.
“I like it because it has two stories, and it’s more newer. The other was more broken down, yes, but it was still my favorite,” said the girl.
Jenny Haynes, now in her second year of teaching transition-to-kindergarten for 4-year-olds, and enjoying her first year at the actual school, couldn’t say enough about it.
“I love our school because it gives kids lots of space. It has wonderful technology and lots of furniture and interactive boards,” said Haynes.