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New Cherry Valley Elementary School taking shape

The library in the new Cherry Valley Elementary School is nearing completion.

The library in the new Cherry Valley Elementary School is nearing completion.

No doubt Amy Croxford spoke for her colleagues as they toured the new Cherry Valley Elementary School earlier this month.

“Not too many people get to start in a new school,”  said Croxford, who will be the Cherry Valley assistant principal after working as a special education administrator for the Rockford Public Schools.

Although the school is not finished, it is taking shape. Most surfaces have been painted with vibrant colors like blue Nile, leapfrog, cherry and candied yam. Construction is on schedule for the school opening  at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Carolyn Timm, who will be the principal of Cherry Valley, organized the tour for teachers and support staff who will work at the new school. They come from eight schools; their tenure ranges from five years to 35 years.

Helen Linden has taught for 20 years and has never worked in a new school. “It gives me goosebumps,” she said as she stood with her husband, Tom, in the new school’s bright commons area outside the art room she will teach in. Today was Linden’s last day teaching art at Bloom Elementary.

At the another end of the school, Rebecca Engelke was thrilled to see something else. “Lockers! The kids will be so excited,” she said. Engelke will be a fifth grade teacher at Cherry Valley after teaching the same grade at Thompson Elementary.

The new school, which is south of Harrison Avenue between Swanson Parkway and Perryville Road, is 86,000 square feet and consolidates Thompson, White Swan and the current Cherry Valley School. It will have four strands or classes at each grade level.

The construction is part of a 10-year facilities master plan, which includes two new schools, upgrades and renovations, and 13 additions. Eight schools will be closed to make the district more efficient and to better serve students with more support staff.

The new schools follow a “safe room” design, built to withstand wind speeds of 250 miles per hour and to resist projectiles of up to 100 miles per hour. “So, the good news is, we’ll survive,” one teacher was heard saying as she passed signs in the hallway signifying the school as a Tornado Storm Shelter.

A twist of another sort greeted Marcia Hite as she looked in her future second grade classroom at Cherry Valley, the same grade she taught at Thompson. The paint was lemon twist, a color that might have challenged a teacher with a less sunny nature. She thought it would be great for her students.

A ribbon cutting is planned for Aug. 17, before the start of school Aug. 20. Watch rps205.com and RPS 205 on Facebook for more details.

Mary Kaull is strategic communications coordinator for the Rockford Public Schools. Click here to subscribe to this blog. Also, please like RPS 205 on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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