ROANOKE, Va. – On Monday, hundreds of students moved into the new Fallon Park Elementary School in Roanoke City for the first time.
Even on a gloomy morning, Principal Nikki Mitchem said teachers and students had a spring in their step as second through fifth graders finally moved into their new school, weeks ahead of schedule.
“They were excited, telling me, 'I get to go into my new room today!’” Mitchem said.
The old building was built more than 40 years ago and many classrooms didn’t have doors, walls or windows.
The brand new space has added security, a designated room for science and technology classes, a new main office and a cafeteria with a bigger kitchen and a stage. The classrooms are also bigger, updated and feature new technology.
“I think it’s a morale booster for everyone," Mitchem said. "Having a brand new facility with brand new furniture is something big. With the doors, the windows, it’s just really going to heighten, I think, our instruction to the next level.”
Construction on phase 3 of the $21.6 million project will begin in early 2020. Crews will renovate the gym, create a fine arts wing, build a new bus loop and a community medical clinic.
Serving the community is a big part of the design. There’s a new laundry room and a larger food pantry and clothing closet.
"If the needs of the students are not met, it’s going to be really hard for them to focus on instruction. so we really want to be a resource.”
Some staff and students still have to make the move over the next week.
“Starting on Monday, the plan is that we’ll be fully over in our new building and parents will check in at our new front office," Mitchem said.
By the new year, she said there will be a whole new feel at Fallon Park.
“I’m excited to get everybody under one roof again,” Mitchem said.
The entire project is expected to be finished by the fall in time for the 2020-2021 school year.