Parker ES students present their wish list for new school

Don’t paint the girls bathroom walls pink was one of many requests from a small group of Parker Elementary School students who wrote a list of 26 must-haves for the design of the new campus.

The students presented the list Wednesday to the school’s architect, sharing ideas for solar panels, automatic sinks, open windows, larger classrooms and music rooms, an updated library with reading zones for different grade levels, and individual spaces for the gym, cafeteria and auditorium.

[photoshelter-gallery g_id=’G0000Q5z6a0GGN2o’ g_name=’20140326-ParkerPAT’ width=’600′ f_fullscreen=’t’ bgtrans=’t’ pho_credit=’iptc’ twoup=’f’ f_bbar=’t’ f_bbarbig=’f’ fsvis=’f’ f_show_caption=’t’ crop=’f’ f_enable_embed_btn=’t’ f_htmllinks=’t’ f_l=’t’ f_send_to_friend_btn=’f’ f_show_slidenum=’t’ f_topbar=’f’ f_show_watermark=’t’ img_title=’casc’ linkdest=’c’ trans=’xfade’ target=’_self’ tbs=’5000′ f_link=’t’ f_smooth=’f’ f_mtrx=’t’ f_ap=’t’ f_up=’f’ height=’400′ btype=’old’ bcolor=’#CCCCCC’ ]

“We want a separate cafeteria and auditorium because right now the cafeteria is the auditorium,” said fifth-grader Abigail Nitsch.

“We want an actual gym, too,” added fifth-grader Madeline Vanlandingham. “When it’s raining outside, we go to the mini gym, and it’s kind of small, and there are no (basketball) hoops.”

Parker, a music magnet school originally built in 1959, will receive a new two-story facility with flexible learning commons and multipurpose spaces, enhanced music and band rooms, learning areas with more daylight views, and a performance hall with a stage that may stretch outdoors. Construction on the $29 million project funded under HISD’s 2012 bond program is expected to begin in mid- to late 2015.

“Being able to hear what the students’ ideas are compared to ours is really valuable,” said Parker Principal Lori Frodine. “What I found fascinating is that the majority of their list matched our list, so the things that bother them bother us as well, like our classroom sizes and not having suitable music rooms.”

Brave Architecture, the firm designing the new campus, answered questions from the students about the building design and jotted down the students’ ideas before making a presentation on the site and floor plans.

“Give me your ideas,” architect Chris Sheridan told students while sharing that some of their requests are already included in drafts of the building design. “You asked for a two-story building, and that will happen. Pre-K, first and second grade will be on the first floor, and fourth- and fifth-grade learning centers will be on the second floor.”

Students also asked if the science learning areas could face a part of the school’s habitat gardens. “If the science rooms are facing toward the garden, we could do experiments outside and look outside when we’re inside,” Vanlandingham said.

Students also suggested that the building design incorporate an image of the school’s lion mascot.

“They say what’s on their mind, and the fact that they had a list was excellent” Sheridan said. “What’s been interesting is that they went from eco-friendly comments to building functionality ideas like the size of the chorus rooms. Toward the end of their list, they got into building finishes, which in a way is how buildings are designed. Everything they said had a point.”

Although the students will be in middle school by the time the new campus opens, they said they enjoyed having their voices heard.

“If all or almost all of our ideas go into the school, I’m going to feel like I was really part of the architecture,” said fifth-grader Ellis Haverkamp.

3 thoughts on “Parker ES students present their wish list for new school

  1. Laurel Kelly

    It’s fascinating to see how much thought our students put into their suggestions and how articulate they were but then again I’m not surprised either. We have some wonderful students here at Parker.

  2. David Christensen

    I think is was wonderful that these bright young children had a part in th planning of this school. Our youth can help us build a better future for their education. Of course, I am particularly proud that my great niece was part of this group of youngsters. 🙂

Comments are closed.