Last week, Madison Elementary School staff found creative ways to adjust to their temporary quarters at New Bridge Community Church in Olympia.
The handles of a foosball table became a backpack holder in one classroom.
Carpeted risers were used to create a bed at the nurse’s station.
Cellphone alarms doubled as school bells.
Even the church’s kitchen area had a new use: “I’ve actually used this as my office twice,” Madison principal Domenico Spatola-Knoll said while giving a media tour of the building.
The church — which, coincidentally, is the original Madison school — is one of three campuses the school is using while it undergoes emergency repairs for moisture damage and dry rot that recently was discovered under its stucco exterior.
Construction is expected to be completed in time for students to move back into the school in January after winter break, district officials say.
In the meantime, Madison’s 18 preschoolers are attending classes at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy, its 60 fourth- and fifth-graders are at Roosevelt Elementary School and the majority of its population — 138 students in grades K-3 — are attending school at New Bridge.
District officials don’t have a breakdown of the relocation costs yet, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Japhet.
Those costs include an extra bus to transport students to the different campuses and increased paraeducator hours to help with recess, lunch and other student-management issues at New Bridge.
“In addition to the paraeducator hours, we are leasing the New Bridge church space for an under-market rate fee,” Japhet said.
Those figures should be available this week when the lease has been finalized, she added.
Last week, teachers and other staff were eager to move into the space and begin transforming it back into a public school.
Hula hoops and playground balls were brought to the covered play shed, and a cart of books was brought into the school to create a mobile library.
The church painted one of the rooms that was a little too dark for a classroom and wired the building for better access to technology, according to Susan Stillwell, who teaches second and third grades.
Tables and chairs were brought in for desks in some of the rooms, but teachers also are trying to make do with available furnishings.
“This could have been a nightmare, but it actually feels like a fun field trip,” Stillwell said.
The church plans to continue using the classrooms every Sunday, so teachers are working out of boxes and bins.
Madison’s front office and nurse’s room, which are located in a hallway that was selected near the entrance for safety reasons, likely will be packed up every Friday and reassembled on Monday mornings, Spatola-Knoll said. He joked that the theme for the year was inspired by a poster that he hung in his old office about a week before the building was closed: “Keep calm and carry on.”
“We’ve been looking at this as a camping trip,” Spatola-Knoll said. “You don’t pack everything, and you can’t wait to get home.”
It’s a move that brings déj vu for a handful of staff members who worked in the building until the new Madison opened in 1999.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying it,” said kindergarten teacher Paula Jo Rosenkranz. “It’s nostalgic looking around seeing the changes that have been made. … It’s a beautiful space. It’s large rooms, and well-lit rooms.”
Madison parent Trishua Hunt said her 6-year-old daughter McKenzie was excited about her first day of first grade, even if it was at a temporary location.
“I think for the amount of time they had, I’m impressed with what they came up with,” she said. “At first, I was kind of worried, but they made us feel really good about it.”
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 email@example.com