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Grove Elementary prepares to welcome first students Sept. 2

Grove secretary Marylou Oas was among the many staffers charged with helping unwrap and place the hundreds of boxes of equipment and supplies that had the new school’s gym resembling a crowded warehouse.  - TOM CORRIGAN The Marysville Globe
Grove secretary Marylou Oas was among the many staffers charged with helping unwrap and place the hundreds of boxes of equipment and supplies that had the new school’s gym resembling a crowded warehouse.
— image credit: TOM CORRIGAN The Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE From the outside, the new Grove Elementary School at Grove Street and 67th Avenue NE looks ready for the arrival of its first students Sept. 2.

That's on the outside.

Inside, the building certainly looks shiny and new expect where a contractor still is wandering around putting on some final coats of paint here, placing some electrical wiring there. Yellow construction tape still blocks a few staircases and entranceways.

But besides the newness of everything, the first thing any visitor is bound to notice is the boxes. They are scattered throughout the building containing everything from basic office supplies to VCR/DVD players.

"Think back to your school experiences and think about what was there in that school," said John Bingham, capital projects director for the Marysville School District. "Well, none of that stuff is here."

Actually, on the day Bingham made his comment, many of those items were in the school. They were just still residing in those already mentioned boxes.

So, how much equipment does it take to outfit a brand new elementary school, which should host about 400 students? Bingham supplied a partial list.

Start with 828 student chairs. Add 353 tables and 151 computer stations. Throw in 50 telephones, 28 digital projectors, 27 document cameras and 35 staff desks.

And that was just a few of the items that had arrived by about Aug. 12. They represented about 10 truckloads and roughly 35 teachers were scheduled to help start the unpacking. With the school's gym looking like a warehouse, there still was plenty more equipment on the way, including presumably hundreds upon hundreds of classroom and library books.

Fifth grader teacher Tim Granger is one of a committee of Grove teachers trying to tame what Bingham repeatedly called organized chaos. Before stopping to make a few comments, he was busy schlepping a few of those boxes up a flight of stairs.

"And I have no idea of what's in these," Granger said, as he wiped some sweat off his forehead.

At that particular point in time, Granger said the main goal was to move the boxes out of the gym and get them to where they needed to be, partly just to make room for the arrival of more boxes.

But Granger added getting equipment and supplies in their proper place was only a first step towards readying the school. Obviously, all the equipment and materials need to be installed or put away. Perhaps more importantly, staff has to be brought in to familiarize themselves with the building, with its policies and procedures, all of which are new to everyone involved.

"We have to figure out how do we get kids to the playground, how do we get them back," he said for the sake of example. "It's all new."

Bingham has said Grove is opening to students one year ahead of the district's original schedule. The building also came in under budget at about $19 million, according to district Superintendent Larry Nyland. In the past, Bingham had indicated the original building budget was about $20 million.

Grove is the district's 11th elementary school, its first elementary building with two stories. The design made use of eight so-called portable classrooms, units built in a factory north of Marysville and then transferred to the school site. The portables making up the wings of the new Grove were modified greatly to blend in with the parts of the building that underwent traditional construction. From the outside, to an eye untrained in construction, it is virtually impossible to distinguish the "portable" sections of the school from other areas.

Back inside, secretary Marylou Oas was attacking a large stack of shrink wrap-covered boxes.

"It's a lot of work," she said. "But it's a beautiful new building."

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