With its numerous and expansive windows — some stretching from floor to ceiling — the new Waunakee Intermediate School makes the most of its views of farm fields and a herd of cows.
That open feel carries over to the roomy interior of the 155,000-square-foot building, which replaced the former 96,000-square-foot intermediate school. Collaborative spaces, including a two-story indoor terraced space for small group gatherings, can be found throughout the school, which also was designed with wide hallways, an airy foyer and a wide stairway that overlooks the cafeteria.
“It’s awesome. It’s very high-tech,” said sixth-grader Zach Hurlebaus, one of the students who volunteered to give tours at a dedication and open house Sunday. “It’s very bright with all the natural light.”
When asked his favorite part of the school he said it was hard to pick.
“I think the huge gym. It’s two full basketball courts,” he said.
The $35.9 million school, at 6273 Woodland Drive, houses 630 fifth- and sixth-graders, although it has a capacity of 800. A future addition could accommodate 200 more.
Cindy Kobza, who was touring the school with her sixth-grade daughter, Lindsey, was impressed by how much thought went into planning the building.
Principal Chris Hetzel said a committee of 10 teachers and three administrators made the decisions with input from students, who made glass tiles that have been installed near the entrance. Nearly all the furniture is on wheels so it can be moved, and some walls can be written on and then wiped clean. Murals, which were created with student input, were done by Tim Burton, a graphic artist and husband of art teacher Mel Burton.
Dedicated rooms were made for students to create videos, play keyboards, work out on cardio equipment and sell items for a dollar or less at a school store.
The school is divided into four “villages,” which are clusters of classrooms with their own collaborative space and bathrooms. Keeping with the natural and environmental bent of the school, the villages are named earth, wind, water and sun and the colors and a quote on the wall reflects their respective themes.
Some of the school’s furnishings are made with recycled materials, and two green roofs are visible from within the school. The mechanical systems controlling the geothermal heating and cooling system are displayed behind a glass wall with an informational panel to serve as a teaching tool. By chance, the windows look out to wind turbines in the distance.
The natural light is intended to promote wellness, Hetzel said. Indeed, the school was still cheerily bright during Sunday’s overcast weather.
“When you look out the windows you can really see the nature around you,” said sixth-grader Alexis Endres.