With new buildings planned, Oak Heights Elementary celebrates community with closing ceremony

Students participate in the groundbreaking ceremony.

The Oak Heights Elementary School community gathered for a closing ceremony Tuesday to mark the end of an era. Students, families and Oak Heights staff watched in silence as several students lowered the flags from the flag post near the Lynnwood school’s entrance and folded it into a triangle. One of the students then handed the flag to Oak Heights Principal Jessica Asp.

“We’re ecstatic and overjoyed because this school and community just need a vibrant new facility,” Asp said. She pointed out that there will be three new buildings that will replace the existing structures, including a main building that will serve as a hub and has a gym, library and administration office.

Fifth graders lower the flag for the last time at Oak Heights Elementary.
Oak Heights Elementary Principal Jessica Asp introduces the land acknowledgement read by fifth graders Kasja Dahl and Mia Lopez.

“There will be two separate learning buildings that are two stories, with lots of gardens and courtyards that can be outside learning spaces,” Asp said. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

“I think the really exciting thing about building a new school is it’s not just for those of us who are standing here today, it’s for these students and future generations of students as well,” Edmonds School District Superintendent Rebecca Miner said. “We’re really doing legacy work when our school district and community build a new school.”

“We’re really doing legacy work when our school district and community build a new school,” Edmonds School District Superintendent Rebecca Miner said.

Miner added that the new school design will benefit “not just the students but our community as we create additional open space and places for people to enjoy our facilities.” These facilities will include improved drop-off spots for the students and a playground with accessibility for all.

“I am looking forward to the new design that [will] make everyone’s lives easier,” Miner said.

Edmonds School Board President Nancy Katims thanked Adel Sefrioui and Kory DeMun from Yes for ESD Kids and voters for passing the 2024 School Construction Bond and Replacement Technology/Capital Levy.

Edmonds School Board President Nancy Katims (left) with Adel Sefrioui.

“[Sefrioui and DeMun] played a pivotal role in helping to energize and educate our voters about the importance of this bond,” Katims said. “The Yes for [ESD] Kids group worked tirelessly to build new partnerships, raise awareness and foster enthusiasm for our district initiatives.”

Last February, Edmonds School District voters approved the bond and levy with a passing margin of 64% to 36%.

Voters approved Proposition 1 to sell $594 million in construction bonds to accelerate the completion of Oak Heights Elementary and replace the voter-approved 2021 Capital Levy. The approved bond measure also will fund the replacement of College Place Middle and Elementary schools, the construction of a fifth middle school at the former Alderwood Middle School site, the replacement of Westgate Elementary and various renewal and upgrade projects.

The approved proposition also includes a plan to move the district’s sixth graders to middle school, providing them with a broader range of courses and access to lab science. This transition would align with the completion of all middle school construction by the start of the 2028-29 school year.

Second-grade teacher Patricia Riggin in classroom, decorated with beach scenes and color. “I love the beach,” she says.

Second-grade teacher Patricia Riggin, who has been teaching for 24 years – 11 years at Oak Heights – said that the current building has “a lot of problems” and is looking forward to the new facilities.

“A couple of years ago, we had to have the plumbing be put outside of the walls because the plumbing just didn’t work,” Riggin said. “[The water] was coming out brown. They had to put the plumbing outside of the walls [by] tearing the walls down. There’s also been issues with mold, so having all of that out would be very nice.”

Students put their handprints on the mural with a good-bye note.
One of the many murals that were painted on a school building. The demolition begins some time next week.

Second-grade teacher Tanya Grush, who has taught at Oak Heights since 2010, said that she is looking forward to having “natural sunlight” in the classrooms. “That’s my biggest thing because I haven’t been in a new school,” she said. “Having a second level would provide a little more space.”

Grush recalled a flood on campus from many years ago. “There was a waterfall coming out of that wall,” she said, pointing to the hallway near the building’s workroom. “It was frozen and it had been leaking all weekend and it was going outside of the wall. There were pipes breaking, so I’m really excited to have a new school with up-to-date technology and maybe air conditioning.”

While the pipe break was being fixed, Grush was teaching at the library for a short while.

“Having all of our students and community in a secure perimeter is going to be fantastic,” Asp said. “It’ll innovate the way teachers collaborate and work together.”

— Story and photos by Nick Ng

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