Palisades Park Elementary School is open and online.
The 39-classroom school on N.C. 49 welcomed students Aug. 25. A traffic signal out front is in place, and the STEM school is working to give children the most modern education available.
“We’re going in a new direction,” said Principal Gina O’Hare.
The school has a newsroom with green screen. It has see-through water fountains, boiler room doors, server rooms and in places, ceilings, to show students how the inner workings operate. The school has 30 Chromebooks, and only about half the number of books as a typical elementary school library.
“Half of our library will be online,” O’Hare said.
Corridor monitors show ongoing utility usage, allowing students to figure out what gets used when. Pipes are color coded by utility showing where heat and water travel through the ceiling.
“We can monitor the utility usage through these monitors,” said Chip Lofton, project manager.
While the school focuses on science and technology, teachers like Nancy Schnakenberg still hope to bring a personal element to the school. Something her kindergarten students will need, she said.
“It’s their first year,” Schnakenberg said, “and it’ll be their best.”
The school includes two playgrounds, in a partnership with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation. Walking trails and picnic shelters are there, too. Gates will close off the areas used by the school during school hours.
“After school hours, it’s open,” said Kevin Brickman, park and rec planner.
Everything from the “idea paint” allowing teachers to write with dry erase markers on room dividers, to the rhombus-shaped desks creating numerous layout patterns, are trials that could be used in other Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools facilities.
Palisades Park was built to relieve overcrowding at Lake Wylie and Winget Park elementary schools. For more information, visit schools.cms.k12.nc.us/palisadesparkES.