Kamiak Elementary to welcome future Kestrels

New school will help solve issue of overflowing of student populations



Shannon Focht, Pullman Public Schools communications director, showcases Kamiak Elementary School’s library on Thursday. The new school has 24 classrooms, as well as an English Language Learners area and a Developmental Learning Center.

ANGELICA RELENTE, Evergreen editor-in-chief

A painting of an American Kestrel is displayed on the gym wall at Kamiak Elementary School. A sign that reads “Welcome” in different languages hangs near the front entrance. Children’s voices will soon fill the empty halls of the newly built K-5 grade school on Aug. 28.

The $23.5 million bond project took about a year and a half to finish, said Shannon Focht, Pullman Public Schools communications coordinator. An additional $7.4 million grant from the state also helped fund the school.

Focht said there are 24 general education classrooms, as well as some specialized learning spaces such as an English-Language Learners area and a Developmental Learning Center. The library also offers a large screen TV that teachers can connect to a tablet without having to use a projector and a laptop.

“It was a lot different than my elementary school,” said Evan Hecker, principal at Kamiak Elementary School. “I don’t remember having LCD TV’s and Surface Pros.”

Focht said the construction phase faced some delays due to bad weather. Most of the construction was finished in April, but they could not occupy the building until they received a certificate of occupancy.

Kamiak Elementary will help decrease the overflowing population size in other schools in the district, Focht said. There were times when teachers had to use nontraditional spaces for classrooms.

“We had a classroom using the music class… the stage was walled off temporarily to be used,” she said. “We really had to get creative”

Hecker said every aspect of the school was built with input from the community.

Focht said some features that differentiate Kamiak Elementary from the other schools are the separate playgrounds built for two different grade levels. K-1 have their own space while second through fifth-grade students have their own.

On a typical school day, she said, the exterior doors — except for the main entrance — will be locked once school starts. The main entrance would lead to the front office, which would require visitors to sign in and receive a visitor’s badge.

Focht said the Pullman community also has the option to rent the gym for public events.

Hecker said he plans on making children’s first day special by rolling a “red carpet.”

“The goal is that they’re gonna want to knock the doors down when they’re coming back the next day on Thursday,” Hecker said.

*This article was updated to state Shannon Focht’s accurate title.