The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 5, 2013

Irving pupils dazzled by room sizes, colors in new school building

JOPLIN, Mo. — Ask 9-year-old Logan Foglesong what he likes about the new Irving Elementary School, and he’ll tell you he loves its size.

“You might need a GPS for it,” he said. “It has so much stuff. I love the classrooms, and it’s just so big.”

Students and their families flooded Irving, 3001 S. McClelland Blvd., on Thursday for a special sneak peek at the new building, which will officially open Jan. 6 for the start of the spring term. The 88,400-square-foot school, designed to hold 650 students, is splashed with color, features lots of windows and natural lighting, and encourages collaborative learning through the use of open spaces, said Pam Haldiman, an architect with Sapp Design Associates Architects, of Springfield.

So how excited is Logan, a third-grader, about moving into the new school next month?

“I just can’t tell,” he said.

His mother, Robin Foglesong, said Logan and her other son, a kindergartner, are temporarily split between Irving’s two campuses, the former Washington Education Center on East Second Street and the former Duquesne Elementary School on South Duquesne Road. They’re ready to make the transition together into the new building, she said.

“They’re already walking around like they own the place,” she said.

Ellie Benfield, also a third-grader, said her new school is “awesome.” Her favorite room is the art room, in which one wall is essentially a bulletin board for the easy display of artwork, and another wall is a giant dry-erase board.

“It’s a lot more colorful,” she said of the school, “and it’s a lot cleaner and different.”

Karihn Handy, a fifth-grader, said she liked “everything” about the new school and that she, too, was impressed with how big her classroom is.

“It’s huger than the one I’m in, and it has a bigger view of outside,” she said.

Third-grader Sam Moore, who had just finished his year in kindergarten at the old Irving school when it was destroyed in the 2011 tornado, said he played a special role in developing the new school.

“I got to help design it,” he said. “They asked me some of my ideas and some other kids’ ideas.”

And Sam said he got his wish: color, and lots of it. Colored rings of light greet visitors in the main lobby, and the carpets and tiles are filled with bursts of orange, green, blue and yellow. Neutral classrooms are offset by walls of purple or green.

“I like it,” Sam said. “It’s really big and colorful.”

Sam’s father, Steve Moore, said he is excited to see Irving completed not only for his son, but also for his wife, Susan, who is a kindergarten teacher there.

“It’s hard to compare it to the old buildings because when they were designed, it was a totally different era,” he said. “Here, it’s bright, and it’s open, and it’s colorful. To come into this is fantastic, really.”

Honoring history

IRVING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, which will house pupils from the old Irving and Emerson schools, holds both the cornerstone and the stone nameplate of the former Irving school. There also is a display of historical photos of the old school, which was built in 1907 at 22nd Street and Wall Avenue, and rebuilt in 1927 at 26th Street and Wall Avenue.

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