Kent School District opened its brand new Kent Laboratory Academy featuring numerous rooms, labs and flex spaces in the two-story building.
The academy opened at the southwest corner of Southeast 208th Street and 108th Avenue Southeast, the site of the former Panther Lake Elementary School across from Safeway. The 58,085-square-foot school building cost $43.8 million.
School district leaders, academy staff and community leaders celebrated the opening with an Aug. 28 ceremony. They explored the new building and thanked voters for their support of the 2016 bond initiative which provided funding for the new building.
“A brand new school building is only possible because of our community’s investment in education and in the future of our students,” said interim Superintendent Israel Vela, according to a district statement. “This beautiful new building is a physical representation of our commitment to students and families to provide the best possible learning environment in successfully preparing all students for their futures.”
Principal Stephanie Knipp also spoke at the opening of the new facility, which combined the Kent Phoenix Academy and Kent Mountain View Academy that previously shared space at the former Sequoia Middle School, 11000 SE 264th St.
“We are here to open this brand new, beautiful school building where children in our community can learn, grow and reach or exceed their educational goals and dreams,” Knipp said. “The school motto is ‘innovating for all learners’ and this new building will certainly support the personalized learning environments provided by the programs and partnerships of this school.”
School Board Director Joe Bento presented a plaque commemorating the opening of the school and thanked voters for bringing the state-of-the-art building to life.
“Congratulations and we hope this building will serve our community well in preparing our students for their futures,” he said.
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph spoke about the importance of the new school in setting the standard for the growing Kent community and helping to further raise the bar for students.
The building was designed by Kirkland-based Hutteball and Oremus Architecture and built by Mill Creek-based Comer General Contractors. It features a stage, music room, 13 classrooms, four storefront teaching spaces, two science labs, two project labs and four flex spaces for a total of 27 teaching spaces, plus the multipurpose room and a library with two additional areas for instruction.
The vestibule at the entrance is an added safety feature to allow all visitors to pass through the front office before entering the school.
The academy has a capacity of 456 students and 40 staff members, as well as a capacity of 226 in the multipurpose room. The building was designed with anticipation and room to expand both the first and second floors west of area D to increase capacity and teaching spaces in the future.
Each classroom and lab has its own air handling unit placed just outside of the classroom for individual air supply and easy access for maintenance without disruption to areas of instruction, according to the district. Each space is equipped with an interactive Promethean panel (an interactive whiteboard that allows you to project an image from a laptop or computer) for instruction and presentation.
The staff lounge was intentionally designed to have a different feel than the rest of the building to allow the teachers take their break and relax, according to the district. All furniture is versatile in its use and can be configured in many different ways to suit the education and collaborative environments.
The district describes the academy as an innovative school providing students and families with an option in public education. In partnership with local universities, the academy provides a more richly staffed and resourced school to actualize a personalized learning environment by enriching the curriculum, instruction and assessment.
Kent Laboratory comprises 10 grade levels and six distinct programs that are rooted in personalized learning. Each program provides a decidedly different school experience for students and families who are seeking an alternative to their boundary school.
“Our small school size fosters authentic, meaningful relationships and mirrors the district’s demographics to pilot and innovate,” according to the district. “Coupled with our unique structure, student learning is anchored in programs and environments that support a focused identity and clear outcomes.”
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