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Shaw Road opens with new classrooms
Shaw Road opens with new classrooms
Posted on 09/08/2017

Kindergartner Jackson Schroer did not wait for school to begin in September to become involved at his new school.

He and a number of staff, students, and community volunteers showed up at Shaw Road Elementary on August 15 to improve the school grounds for nearly 700 students returning to school in September.

Shaw Road students
Donning work gloves they shoveled beauty bark, pulled weeds, cleaned up leaves and debris, and planted new plants and flowers.

Shaw Road is set to open this fall with a new 12 classroom addition housing over 300 students. The addition includes a new courtyard surrounded by classrooms to be used to extend learning outside of the classroom.

“The courtyard will serve as an outdoor classroom and unique site for student involvement. We will have student volunteers maintaining the courtyard area and new planters. Teachers already have specific science lessons in mind for the setting, and the courtyard will also be an inclusive outdoor classroom. It will certainly be a prime location for special class celebrations!” ~ Shaw Road Principal Michelle Cruckshank

Making the courtyard an outdoor classroom

When Principal Michelle Cruckshank and parent Trevor Denham had a conversation last spring about making the courtyard an outdoor learning tool for students, Denham went right to work. He wrote letters to community businesses asking for donations of supplies he would use to build planter boxes and benches for the courtyard.

That’s when Puyallup Lowe’s replied, “You’ve been chosen for this year’s Puyallup Lowe’s Heroes Project.” Denham said he asked Lowe’s for a lot of things and, “They came through with a big YES!” The Heroes Project allows each store to choose a local project to participate in and donate $2,000 in supplies each year according to Puyallup Lowe’s Human Resources Manager Ingrid Staeck.
Shaw Road w Lowe's

Puyallup Lowe’s not only donated supplies to build the six boxes and five benches and items for planting, they also sent 15 employees to spend the day helping prepare the school grounds for the new school year and a truck to deliver the items that Denham built.

First grade teacher Debbie Gibson was on hand to help prepare the grounds for the new school year. “The planter boxes are a great idea. My first grade class will maintain one of them,” she said.

There will also be tubs hooked to the fence for special needs classes to plant a garden or flowers.

If gathering donations, building benches and planter boxes, and organizing a work-day for students, staff, and community were not enough for Cruckshank and Denham, there was one more thing.

Shaw Road

They invited a special guest to help students learn about gardening.

Master Gardener Ed Hume, a well-known gardening legend in the Pacific Northwest, was on hand to address the crowd and hand out packages of seeds to students. He talked about a variety of seeds as he handed them out describing how to plant and care for them.

Shaw Road

He included giant pumpkin seeds as he told the group of students that Puyallup was home to a very large award winning pumpkin — almost 1,000 pounds. “See how big a pumpkin you can grow,” said Hume.

12 classroom addition features state-of-the-art technology

Fourth, fifth, and sixth-grade students will be assigned to the new classrooms with state-of-the-art technology — including 1-1 devices for each student in the addition; and 65” interactive screens for every Shaw Road classroom, walls that feature tackable wall surfaces, and a project room adjoining each set of two classrooms.

Sixth grader Grace Turner said she is excited to have her classroom in the new addition. “It’s new and I don’t have to be in a portable this year. It was hard to be outside of the building and have to walk to the bathrooms in cold weather.”

The new 12 classroom addition to Shaw Road was completed in May. The $8.9 million project represents another step in the progress to achieve state objectives for full-day kindergarten and average class size of 17 to 1 for kindergarten through third grades.

The design specifications for the classroom project comply with the Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol (WSSP) which outlines the criteria for high performance schools. These protocols were developed and administered through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). 

The green building standards are intended to save district funds and help protect the environment.

Ribbon Cutting and Open House

On August 29 the district hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Shaw Road community in celebration of the new classroom addition.

A large crowd of excited students, staff, and parents listened to district officials explain the funding for the project. Chief Operations Officer Mario Casello reminded everyone of the difference between the construction bond passed in 2015 and the class-size reduction mandate which led to the Shaw Road addition. 

Later, School Board Director Kathy Yang greeted the audience. Having been a parent of children who attended Shaw Road, she was known by many in the community. "It's the people who make a school, not the building," said Yang. "But it's really nice to also have a beautiful building like this!"

Covered by the Tacoma News Tribune, the event received great publicity. See the TNT story below here: Shaw Road Elementary's new look: Laptops, smart boards and mobile desks.

See photos from the ceremony and open house in the gallery below.


Cruckshank said she would like to thank everyone who participated in the grounds clean up in preparation for the dedication event and the start of a new school year.

“This project is a testimony to the commitment of our Shaw Road community.  After a year of interruption and adaptation to construction, the community and many staff members joined Lowe’s to do this hard work.  They cleaned up the grounds and transformed the courtyard into a beautiful, welcoming place for students.  I am very grateful to be surrounded by so many generous and caring people.” ~ Shaw Road Principal Michelle Cruckshank



Nancy French