Anticipation Builds for Whitehills, Pinecrest School Building Reconstruction

Wednesday, June 5, 2019, 11:08 am
By: 
Mark Meyer

Pinecrest students participate in Tuesday’s ceremonial groundbreaking for their new school building, which is scheduled to be ready for the 2020-21 school year.

The shovels were digging in, sand was flying, plastic yellow hard hats waving and plenty of cheers filled the afternoon air Tuesday at groundbreakings for new buildings at both Whitehills and Pinecrest elementary schools.

The young Wolves and Puppies (nicknames respectively for the two schools) joined their teachers, staff, parents, community and school board members, and East Lansing Public Schools officials at both sites for ceremonial shovels in the sand and songs of celebration.

Music teachers Katie Pike (Whitehills) and Cari Cravotta (Pinecrest) led the playground gatherings in song and spirit.

“It’s a very exciting time for Pinecrest, and all of East Lansing, with the schools being renovated,” said Pinecrest Principal Amy Webster. “I think the impact is that it showed our families and our students that the community values education, and is willing to put money toward funding it, in a way that our students will have up-to-date buildings and classrooms.”

Shane Johnson, principal at Whitehills, echoed similar thoughts about future learning opportunities at both schools.

“Any time you can upgrade your facility it takes things to that next level,” Johnson said. “It’s a wonderful time for our students, staff and community to improve the already great educational experience that kids will have here.

“For me, I’m most excited for the community members, students and staff. It’s a wonderful opportunity that doesn’t happen very often. It’s really going to benefit everyone.”

Whitehills students listen as Superintendent Dori Leyko leads the ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday.

According to Superintendent Dori Leyko, reconstruction at both sites begins June 12 and is scheduled to complete by September 2020.

“This is a super exciting time for the whole East Lansing community,” Leyko said. “We have Glencairn and Donley both being completed this summer, and work begins next week for 15 months both at Whitehills and Pinecrest. The construction schedules are all very similar in the amount of time it will take to complete the rebuilds.”

Both schools will feature a two-story classroom building, with exterior windows for most classrooms, in addition to larger and more modern cafeterias and gymnasiums, along with specialty areas for more concentrated learning.

An artist’s rendering of new buildings at Pinecrest (above) and Whitehills (below) elementary schools, both of which are scheduled to be ready for the 2020-21 school year.

The original Whitehills was built in 1961, Pinecrest a year earlier. For the 2019-20 school year, Whitehills students will attend Donley while Pinecrest students travel to Red Cedar.

Webster, for one, is looking forward to having additional space to accommodate her staff and students.

“When I came to East Lansing (four years ago, from Ann Arbor Schools) we have a portable (classroom) here and we’re really tight on space,” she said. “So this will help alleviate some of the space concerns that we’ve had.

“It will also allow our students to move into a fresh, new building, which will give us a positive climate throughout the building.”

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