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Cherryland Elementary Grand Opening
Posted 8/21/19

EAST BAY TIMES article:



Cherryland ribbon-cutting



HAYWARD — Students have not arrived, but teachers and others are busy getting Cherryland Elementary School ready for its grand opening and the first day of school.  The campus at 456 Laurel Ave. will serve up to 850 students in kindergarten through sixth grade beginning later this month.



The campus features five buildings, ranging from one to two stories. The largest, a two-story with classrooms, totals 41,442 square feet. The library and media center, a one-story building, is the smallest at 7,072 square feet space. The air-conditioned classrooms feature wall-size whiteboards instead of traditional chalkboards, mounted home theater-size computer screens and desks specially selected for children based on their age.



Room numbers are set in fixtures in the shape of an animal’s claw — reminding kids of the school’s mascot, the panther — and outdoor walls are painted red, reflecting the “cherry” in the school’s name. “We are getting there,” said fifth-grade teacher Jacqueline Lafitte, who has been with the Hayward Unified School District for 23 years, as she stocked cabinets in her second-floor classroom on a recent afternoon.



Some items the teacher purchased at a 99 cent store to supplement what the district provides. Lafitte turned down the volume of her CD player, blasting out “YMCA” by the Village People, while taking a break from the work. “The space is beautiful,” Laffitte said as she glanced around her classroom, B237. “I’ve got room galore.”



Just outside a crew was removing desks and chairs from boxes and assembling them. Others were going from room to room, checking the electrical system.



Teacher Leah Rosenbloom was downstairs, organizing packages of crayons and reams of paper for the second-graders she will teach this fall. She was also struck by the size of her classroom compared with the one she had in the old Cherryland school a few blocks north of the current site.



“There’s enough space for people who might visit and who are not teachers to do what they need to do,” said Rosenbloom, who has been with the district for 19 years.



But the change is a little bittersweet: “This is my first year outside Room 24,” she said, referring to her spot at the old campus.



On Tuesday, the school district will celebrate the grand opening of Cherryland with music, food and other activities.



The event, open to the public, will include tours of the campus. It will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday.



Among those set to attend are Congressman Eric Swalwell and Mayor Barbara Halliday, as well as city and school district officials. First day of classes in the Hayward Unified School District is Aug. 26.



Construction of the new Cherryland campus, which is on the site of the former Sunset High School, began in January 2018 and was funded through Measure L, a $229 million bond that Hayward voters passed in November 2014 to build, modernize and upgrade schools. The price tag for Cherryland’s construction was not immediately available. But trustees were told at a district workshop last year it would cost $66.7 million.



Over the summer, the former Cherryland school at 585 Willow Ave. was upgraded so that it can temporarily house students from Harder Elementary School as that campus, too, gets rebuilt with Measure L money. Building the new Harder school will take place on its current site at 495 Wyeth Road and is expected to take about 18 months. The work began June 17. Harder students will be bused to the former Cherryland site during construction.



Other features of the new Cherryland include places for students at similar grade levels to collaborate and a central space for teachers to work across different programs.



Solar panels are expected to meet 100 percent of Cherryland’s electricity needs. There’s also a library and media center, plus an outdoor amphitheater with planter boxes where kids can grow vegetables and flowers as part of learning about the environment.



“That’s a real focus for contemporary schools,” said Jason Livingston of the TRiGroup of Milpitas which is helping the Hayward district manage its facilities program. “Teachers want an outdoor space where students can gather and learn.”



Cherryland was built by BHM Construction, while Vanir Construction Management managed the project. Vanir also did work on other Hayward schools, including Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.



The Hayward school district is made up of 21 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, an alternative school, an adult education center and a preschool. It serves approximately 20,000 students.




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