New Northwood Elementary opens doors | Photos

Northwood Elementary — the first new school building constructed on Mercer Island in more than 50 years — was dedicated on Saturday at a festive open house attended by hundreds of community members.

Visitors explore Northwood Elementary’s courtyard at the school's open house on Saturday.

Northwood Elementary — the first new school building constructed on Mercer Island in more than 50 years — was dedicated on Saturday at a festive open house attended by hundreds of community members.

“This building is a fitting tribute to the dedication, the wisdom and the spirit of this Island community and what they hold dear in their hearts, and that is education,” Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano said during the dedication ceremony in front of the new school. “It is education that enables our children to thrive, to grow, to learn and to create. I’m incredibly proud as your superintendent to open these doors and show the world what we have created.”

After the ribbon cutting, families toured the building, marveling at the natural light and interactive technology in the classrooms and the shared learning areas. Despite the rain, children had fun exploring the new outdoor play areas.

Northwood will be the fourth elementary school in the Mercer Island District and will open for classes when the 2016-17 school year begins Aug. 31. Aimee Batliner-Gillette is principal and Jill Ravenscraft is associate principal.

Northwood will serve about 400 students in grades Pre-K to 5. Attendance boundaries were redrawn to accommodate the school.

Mahlum Architects of Seattle designed Northwood. Bayley Construction of Mercer Island is the general contractor.

The building is 77,000 square feet and the site include 20 general-purpose classrooms, two developmental preschool classrooms, eight shared learning areas, radiant floor heating in classrooms and library, kitchen, commons, administrative and counseling areas. In addition, the gym includes a high school-sized basketball court along with volleyball, badminton and various other school sports.

Parking on the east side of the site will accomodate 67 high school students during the school day, after school use by Mary Wayte Pool and event parking for various activities on the North Mercer Complex. The site also includes a dedicated bus loop off Southeast 40th Street, parking and student loading on the west side, frontage improvements on 86th Avenue Southeast and along the south side of Southeast 40th Street restoration of the Madrone Grove at the corner of 86th Southeast and Southeast 40th Street, an 8,200-square-foot green roof and a 99.9 kilowatt-hour solar array.

Photos courtesy of Craig Degginger/Mercer Island School District.

Into the Wood

Into the Wood I bid you come.

Northwood beckons.


A forest of learning

waiting to be discovered

one tree at a time.

Artistry, history, mystery.

It is a special space

where pint-sized seekers of knowledge

will explore language and spelling,

geography and math,

social skills and fire drills and fun.


Into the Wood I bid you come

to revisit the hallways of your own childhood memories

when life seemed so elementary

(because it was)

and gifted teachers (like tour guides)

escorted you into worlds

you never knew existed

when friendships forged on playgrounds

became more than recess pals.


Into the Wood I bid you come

to look and be amazed

at workmanship that stands the test of time.

It is a forest of green materials

of steel and glass

of imaginative beauty

and creatively designed spaces

that will shelter students

for decades to come

as they pass beneath, within, around and through

in search of a continuing path that leads to enlightenment.


Into the Wood I bid you come.

Northwood beckons.

by Greg Asimakoupoulos


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