(Washington DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee, and Principal Nikeysha Jackson cut the ribbon on and celebrated the grand opening of the newly constructed West Elementary School in Ward 4. The Mayor also highlighted her proposal to rename West Elementary School to John Lewis Elementary School in honor of the longtime congressman and champion of civil and human rights.
“As we get ready to re-open our schools for full-time in-person learning, I could not be prouder to open this incredible facility for our students, teachers, and families,” said Mayor Bowser. “We know that kids need to be reunited with their teachers and friends, and back in facilities like this one – schools that are specifically designed to support the needs of young learners. And, once the name change is finalized, John Lewis Elementary School will inspire and nurture a new generation of leaders who are ready to carry on his legacy of getting into ‘good trouble’.”
The construction of the new West Elementary School, a $77.5 million project, began in early February 2020 with the demolition of the existing school and was fully completed this summer. The new building is approximately 90,000 square feet spread over two floors and with a total of 32 classrooms serving more than 350 students in grades PK-5. The modernization also includes construction of an outdoor amphitheater, ball field, playgrounds, and other site elements.
“DCPS’s commitment to provide a great school in every neighborhood at every grade level remains strong today,” said Chancellor Ferebee. “West Elementary School offers our students an impressive and interactive learning environment, one that will spark their creativity. I further hope that renaming the school after a giant of the Civil Rights era will continue to inspire our students to make a difference in their communities.”
West Elementary School has characteristics reminiscent of the old open classroom concept but with a modern ‘discovery pod’ classroom approach and has the distinction of being among the District’s first Net Zero Energy-Ready and WELL Certified School.
“The Department of General Services is particularly excited about this property because it is an example of how building design can harness energy and sustainability elements creating a Net Zero Energy-Ready facility,” said DGS Director Keith A. Anderson. “The West/John Lewis Elementary School is outfitted and ready to generate an equal amount of energy that it uses, saving the District in energy costs.”
Features of the new West/John Lewis Elementary School include:
- Among the first Net Zero Energy-Ready and WELL Certified Schools in the District.
- Integrates elements of the WELL Building program that focuses on the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of a building’s occupants.
- Interactive Early Childhood play area focused on natural play that fosters social and physical development and skills.
- Gracious monumental stairs prominently placed in the heart of the school and wide, naturally lit corridors designed to promote activity and movement.
- School as a Teaching Tool — placing elements of the sustainable design in locations where students and visitors can see, and with which teachers can utilize to educate the next generation of environmental stewards.
- Flexible classrooms designed to allow the easy collaboration of an open plan school but can also reconfigure to provide acoustic separation when heads down time is required
Mayor Bowser was joined today by Councilmember Janeese Lewis-George, Department of General Services Director Keith Anderson, members of the community, and representatives from Perkins Eastman architects and the Gilbane Building Construction Company/Saxon Collaborative Construction Joint Venture.