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Las Cruces Bulletin
The sounds of children moving from class to class in the hallways rang for the first time as the J. Paul Taylor Academy’s new building welcomed its wards.
Located at 410 W. Court Ave – right next to charter high school Alma de Arte – the building was constructed for the academy by Las Cruces Public Schools and had a lot of planning hands involved to create the right environment for the students.
“I think it will be a great learning environment,” Principal Aine Garcia-Post said. “It will offer opportunities for collaboration and gathering.”
Unlike its previous location on Del Rey Boulevard, the new building was designed as a school, with the needs of the students in mind, Garcia- Post said. The new building offers bigger classrooms where the old facility had small classrooms for the elementary students and portables for the middle school students.
The kindergarten has a really large room and an outdoor area of its own for the children, she said. The middle schoolers occupy one end of the building and the elementary schoolers have the other end. There is space for special education offices, and roomy library and kitchen areas.
The most exciting part of the building for Garcia- Post and JPTA Governance Council Secretary Jennifer Gorham is a large room that serves as a gathering place, lunch room and physical education space. While at most schools, such a space it a given, for the students and staff at J. Paul Taylor, it will seem like a luxury. At the Del Rey location students ate lunch in their classrooms and gathered for special occasions outside on the basketball court.
“Students won’t be eating in their classrooms anymore,” Garcia-Post said. “They will get to eat in bigger groups.”
She said she is thankful for all the help parents, staff and community members have put in for the moving process. Moving from one location to the other took place entirely between Friday Nov. 6 and Wednesday, Nov. 11. Gorham said 97 volunteers participated in getting everything moved between Friday and Sunday including Mesilla Valley Transport and several New Mexico State University student clubs and organizations.
“I’m excited for the students to be here, stay here and learn here,” Garcia-Post said.
Some of the ways the new school location will function will be determined by student input, she said. Students are spending time Thursday and Friday helping to decide about how to most effectively transition from class to class, rules for walking in the hallways and expectations for the uses for parts of the building.
Gorham, whose daughter has been attending school at JPTA since it started, said the search for an appropriate school location began before the school ever opened in 2011.
“We looked at private investors and city buildings,” she said.
The location of the new building, 410 W. Court Ave., has long been considered as a potential for a charter school complex. Charter high school Alma de Arte is next to the new facility.
“We are the first charter in New Mexico to work cooperatively with a school district to create a space,” Gorham said. “That’s really exciting.”
She said the school has a 20 year lease agreement with LCPS to house the facility.
They spent months and months developing the floor plans, she said. The school had input from teachers, parents and community members while discussing how the building should look. Spaces for arts, music and PE as well as classrooms and the common room were discussed at length.
“No operations funds came from the school (to build the facility),” Gorham said. “It came from the state facilities funds.”
Ultimately, it was decided more square footage was more important to spend money on than landscaping.
“I love it here and I know (my daughter) loves it here,” Gorham said. “I love how our parents really get involved.”