Monday, May 30, 2011

Now The Fun Begins!

And now the fun part begins. Now that our final week of school is behind us, the Woodland Park community now turns its attentions to our new home in the iconic Fremont Baptist Church. We have exactly one week to have things ready for the start of our summer program.

Yesterday, I attended services, where Pastor Judy told us that there was at one time 6 churches in the neighborhood, but FBC is the last one standing. We are so incredibly happy they are here and touched by how widely and warmly they have opened their arms to us.


On the Saturday of our first stage of moving, a huge contingent from the congregation turned out to help us, our two communities working shoulder to shoulder. I was stuck at the Phinney Ridge end of the project for most of the day, but when I took a break to come down to Fremont to see how things were going, I found a tired, smiling group, feasting on the spread of sandwiches, donuts, and cookies they had provided for the day.

I took a fair amount of good natured ribbing from the congregation for for how much stuff -- much of it, I'm sure, looking like pure junk -- that made it onboard our moving trucks.

As the end of our work day approached, our families exhausted, our final two truck loads for the day arrived at FBC, and there was a general feeling that the work before us would far exceed the time alloted. As we stood in front of the church, drooping, trying to come up with a "Plan B," a group of young men walked down the hill toward us. FBC's building manager Jan, said hopefully, "Are you here to help?" thinking they were part of our group. The man who appeared to be a kind of chaperone asked, "Do you need help? I have 7 teenagers with me."

As it turned out, one of the boys was celebrating his 18th birthday by visiting the sites of Seattle with his friends and they were just returning from the Fremont Troll. They then proceeded to empty one of the trucks for us, then devoured sandwiches the way only teenaged boys can. In her sermon, Pastor Judy called them "unbidden angels." And that's exactly what they were.

Here are some photos of our basic spaces before our stuff arrived. 


This will be our main classroom. It's slightly smaller than our former classroom, but it is adjacent to a kitchen that we will be able to use for snack prep, which will free up floor space. We'll be a little cozier, but not much. 


And the room is no longer blue. We've already given it a couple coats of the same "butter yellow" we liked so much in the old space.

I'm particularly excited by the "Social Hall," which is really a very, very nice performing arts facility with a real dance floor installed by a former tenant, a theater group, complete with floor to ceiling mirrors along one wall, and a large stage with curtains at the far end.


Oh boy, are we going to have fun in there!


But as exciting as that is, it's the outdoor spaces that have me the most excited. We've already removed the slide and climber as they weren't in particularly good condition, but we've kept the swing set.


I would estimate that we have about 5-6 times more space here than we had before, so it's exciting to think about what kind of outdoor classroom we'll be able to create, especially as it evolves over time.


The church has already replaced the back fence with something more sturdy . . .


. . . while we are in the process of replacing the chain link fence on the street side. As you can see, the posts are already set.

The congregation yesterday was curious about the tree rounds, shipping pallets and other things we've brought in to get started. Pastor Judy visited our old outdoor classroom and reads this blog, so she knows what to expect.

We took a delivery of sand last week, which will fill our planned two level sand pit.

And our work bench is already more or less in place between two wonderful cedars.

Ultimately, we'll have a large garden space on the other side of the church . . .


. . . but since time is precious, we're going to start the summer with a temporary garden based upon the plants we salvaged from the old place.

A new addition to the outdoor classroom is this 10-foot tall metal windmill, which was given to us by the former director of the now defunct Cirque de Flambe. 

As I understand it, this was a set piece for a fiery bit base upon Don QuixoteAttached to the back of this, is a tangle of wire and pulleys that holds the head, wings and tail of a dragon that apparently emerges from behind the windmill.

I haven't quite figured it out yet, but if we can make that part work . . . Well, oh boy! Our plan is to use it as one wall of a four wall playhouse frame that will anchor the center of the lower level of the playground, one side facing the sandpit, one side the work bench, one the outdoor art area, and the other facing a part of the space yet to be determined. 

So now I must be off on my bicycle (did I mention that the center of the universe is just a 12 minute ride from my home?) to get started. Seven days of preschool creation. What fun!

(Sorry for the weird typefaces and formatting at the bottom of this post. I really must run and will have to fix it later!)


Unknown said...

Wow!! I'm so excited for you! There is just something so wonderful about getting a new space...especially one with so much potential. I've got to say I'm particularly jealous of your multi purpose room and outdoor area. I can't wait to see what you do! :) Have fun!!

amy said...

The bit about the group of teenage boys is the best part for me. The new space is exciting, of course, but I'm a sucker for a serendipity moment.

RebbeccaJ said...

congrats on your new space, i know it's going to be wonderful! cant wait to see how it transforms. blessings!

Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

What a wonderful journey of change you have! Thanks for taking us along for the ride :). I can't wait to watch how everything develops and evolves.

Juliet Robertson said...

Oh oh oh! How exciting! I think the indoor hall sounds amazing, especially with mirrors. I wonder if the children will be allowed to exhibit their artwork in there? Do you have much in the way of lighting and sound systems?

The outdoor space had me drooling with its potential. I can't wait to see the 2 level sandpit. Have you or any of your parents got an iPhone 4? If so I'd love to see all this on Facetime! You could get a "remote" site visit from me! That would be really funny and actually an interesting experiment if you're up for it.

Good luck, best wishes and keep us posted!

Scott said...

"Two level sand pit"? Now I must plan a trip to the center of the universe.

Deborah said...

Yay! You are off to a new adventure! I just love setting up a new environment. I am wondering if you all are considering adding more children and another teacher:)

I was relieved to hear that Pastor Judy reads your blog! LOL! Your arrival could have been quite a shock otherwise!

Anna G said...

oh boy, moving a preschool is a lot of work! Like you, we Saboteers found that we had way more stuff than we realized! I hope the transition goes smoothly, but be prepared in case that is way more stuff than you realize, too. (-:

michellel said...

Oh my, so exciting to plan a new space. How to sleep at night?

Squiggly Rainbow said...

I can just see some Chickens and great kitchen gardens in this yard!

The rooms are huge!

Launa Hall said...

I am so, so, happy for you. I used to hang out in Fremont sometimes when I was a student at UW, and I loved it there. It is indeed the center of the universe. Fremont and your cooperative preschool seem like such a perfect fit. Hurray!