The new Ray Marsh
Shawnee Mission’s newest school provides more than just space
Students at the new Ray Marsh Elementary School have plenty of pretty places to sit and read a book.
There's a wall of windows on the south side facing the playground and trees outside, dozens of tables and chairs and even a "silent reading" area where students can read in quiet.
Librarian Jan McConnell said the library in the new building is about three times the size of the one in the old building.
"This is the first library I've been in with real windows," she said.
Last spring, students, staff and members of the community commemorated the move from the old Ray Marsh building by writing goodbye notes on the walls and had a school closing ceremony.
Students began attending school in the unfinished building during the last few weeks of school.
"We had about half a building," Principal Pat Buffon said. "We had breakfast and lunch in kindergarten rooms because the kitchen, cafeteria and sixth grade were not finished. We had box and sack lunches for three weeks, but the students didn't seem to mind."
This year, about 200 students from the new boundary change from Broken Arrow Elementary School joined them. The old school -- an outdated 60s era building with no walls and a combination gym/cafeteria/ multi-purpose room -- was torn down to make room for the parking lot.
Buffon said the students have mixed feelings about their old building.
"I thought the kids would be upset," she said. "When they first brought in the Caterpillar and made the first hole in the wall, I saw some tears. But by the second hit, they were cheering it on."
Buffon said they're all pleased with the new building, however.
"When they come into the new building, they smile," she said. "They're happy and they're enjoying it."
The construction of the new building has brought many changes in the school's community. The old school had about 300 students, but the new building has nearly 500.
Buffon said the new students come from boundary changes agreed to several years ago by board members and new construction in the area. The building isn't open to transfers, so all the students come from within the new boundaries.
The school has added 13 new classroom teacher positions, three new aides and several new custodians and kitchen employees.
"Best of all, we added a half-time reading teacher to our fulltime reading program," Buffon said, noting that many other Shawnee Mission schools are getting additional support to their reading programs.
The building divides each two grades into hallways with separate bathrooms, which means students are typically around those their own age. The sixth grade has its own special floor on the lower level.
The first grade and kindergarten students have classrooms in the same hallway, for example, with kindergarten benefiting from their very own playground on the north side of their classrooms. A separate kindergarten playground was an idea borrowed from the old building.
The building also has its own music, reading and art rooms. There's a separate teacher's lounge, brand new kitchen and bright cafeteria with lots of windows. Students will even get to use the small stage between the cafeteria and the carpeted gymnasium.
Although the school community is proud of the new building, Buffon said they're not forgetting the old one. She saved a brick from the building that will be one of the stones in the school's new patio.
The Ray Marsh PTA is doing a fund-raiser with the patio by selling the bricks.
"It will be a great place for kids to sit and wait in front of the building," Buffon said.
The bricks will have different sizes and prices based on the number of lines. A 4-by-8-inch brick with three lines is $60, and an 8-by-8-inch brick with 4 lines is $110, and an 8-by-8-inch brick with a logo and line of engraving is $150.
A 12-by-12-inch brick with eight lines of engraving is $250, and a 12-by-12-inch brick with a logo and two lines is $300. For more information about the bricks, contact Theresa Sahhar at (913) 485-5700.
Buffon said in addition to the bricks, students will find planters and benches outside the building. It will be the crowning personal touch, she said.