Westview opens doors to community

Westview opens doors to community

CHAMPAIGN — Students at Westview have been enjoying their newly renovated school — which features updated technology, plenty of room for specialized learning and lots of natural light — since August.

But next week, they'll open it up to the community, as well.

The school is hosting a ribbon cutting from 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday at the school, 703 S. Russell St., C.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be followed by tours of the building and a reception. Speakers will include Principal Sean Morrison, Superintendent Judy Wiegand and school board President Laurie Bonnett.

"We are excited to welcome the public into the renovated Westview," said Wiegand in a news release about the ribbon cutting. "We have been able to do incredible work on some of our elementary schools thanks to support from the community. The school has been transformed from a 60-year-old facility into a true 21st-century learning environment for our students."

The school, which was originally built in 1950, went through a $7.6 million expansion and renovation last school year and reopened in August.

The renovation was paid for with money from the school facilities sales tax.

The school received a geothermal heating and cooling system and new windows before the renovation, but now features new flooring in many areas, new furniture and cabinets in classrooms, new lighting and a separate cafeteria and gym.

The building is now accessible up to the standards of the American with Disabilities Act: It now has an elevator, a chair lift and a built-in ramp on its ground floor, which replaces a plywood ramp, Morrison said.

However, some things, like the terrazzo tile flooring in the school's front hallway, remain.

"They tried to keep things that make Westview unique," Morrison said on a recent tour of the building.

The building features some renovated classrooms and some in a new addition, but Morrison said the goal was for them to all look alike.

They all have a sound system called FrontRow, which allows teachers to wear microphones around their necks and have their voice amplified through speakers around the room.

That way, Morrison said, they can speak at a normal volume and students can still hear well.

Other technology is up to date, as well, Morrison said.

Westview has had an in-school television station for a least 12 years, but now its studio will have a green screen and students' broadcasts can be watched each day from Smart Boards in Westview's classrooms with the help of a website called UStream. The renovation also provided more space for what Morrison called "specials": music, art and physical education.

Kindergarten teacher Leigh Ann Borkowski said she likes that Westview's kindergarten classrooms have their own area on the school's ground floor.

Students feel secure there, she said, and a having a bathroom in her classroom helps, too.

Fifth-grade teacher Donna Moores said she likes the storage space in her classroom, and now rolling carts give her more options for storing her classroom library.

"It's really nice," she said.

Third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms have enough ChromeBook laptops that each student is able to work on his or her own.

The renovation also improved office space for school staff members, including for the school nurse. Previously, sick kids had to spend their time on chairs in the hallway outside the office, Morrison said.

Morrison said staff, students and families together all make a great school, but he's thrilled to have a space where all involved feel valued.

"The improvements have made it clear to our staff and students that education is a priority," he said. "Now we have a modern facility with modern technology that's a great place to come to for work and school."

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