Principal Jason Hill gazed at his school’s spacious and bright gymnasium before stepping to the mic.
“Beautiful building,” he told the crowd assembled for a closer look at Auburn’s new school on the block. “The community came together. We’re building a better place for our kids.”
The place is a sparkling, $53 million Olympic Middle School, which opened its doors to students on Sept. 4, and to the general public for an official community grand opening celebration Tuesday night.
Auburn School District leaders, partners, families and friends gathered for a ceremony and ribbon cutting to embrace the 105,000-square-foot school, at 1825 K St. SE, a two-story, red brick-faced structure wired for 21st-century technology. The new Olympic offers more special education spaces, a bigger commons to accommodate performances, lunches, community meetings, and an inviting library for students. The building has wireless access.
As for parking, the new school will accommodate 250 vehicles, a significant improvement from the present 78. And when parents drop off or pick up their kids, they won’t have to do that on the street anymore.
The school replaces the old one, which was built in 1957 and stands in the shadow of its successor.
The celebration featured guest speakers, refreshments and tours.
The new Olympic was made possible by the generosity of the Auburn community, which passed a $456 million bond package on Nov. 8, 2016 to replace six current schools. The money will build two new elementary schools, one on the south end, the other on the north end, both serving up to 650 students.
Olympic is the first school completed as part of the Building for Learning bond. More than 900 students are attending the new school.
“This school would not be possible without the incredible support of our Auburn community,” school district Superintendent Alan Spicciati told guests. “(Auburn) comes together for its kids. When it comes to supporting our students, whether it’s on Lea Hill or at Algona or Lakeland Hills, or downtown Auburn, we are united in support of our students.”
Spicciati and the school district are trying to keep pace with swelling enrollment. Auburn remains the fastest-growing school district in King County.
Spicciati thanked the many supporters of the project, including the city of Auburn, the voters and many other community partners.
City Councilman John Holman, an Olympic alumnus, took his turn to thank supporters for making the new Olympic school a reality.
“Well, it’s kind of nice to be the first substitute in this new gymnasium,” Holman said to laughter. He was standing in for Mayor Nancy Backus, who was originally scheduled to appear but was unable to make the ceremony. Backus was in Tamba, Japan, on Sister City business, and her flight home was delayed by Typhoon Hagibis.
Holman relayed Backus’ message:
“A huge thank you and congratulations to the Auburn School District and the people of Auburn. You had the foresight to provide for our students in a very big way. While I am a proud and loyal alumni of Olympic Junior High School and have some wonderful memories of the classroom and hallways of the old buildings, it’s time for our students to have what they deserve in this beautiful new building.
“I can’t wait to tour the new school, and I wish for the students the opportunity to make their own wonderful memories of time spent learning here.”
Absher Construction assembled the new Olympic, with BLRB Architects applying the design.