TPAA Elementary

DIGGING IN — School administrators and board members with The Palmdale Aerospace Academy participate Thursday afternoon for the new kindergarten through fifth-grade campus.

PALMDALE — The Palmdale Aerospace Acad­emy will add a transitional kindergarten through fifth-grade campus next door to the existing campus on Palmdale Boulevard and 35th Street East.

School administrators and board members con­duct­ed a ground­break­ing ceremony Thursday af­­ter­­noon for the new school. The ceremony start­ed in the existing school’s cafeteria and fin­ished outdoors beneath a gray carpet of clouds that paused dropping rain long enough for the ceremonial shov­els-in-dirt photo op­por­tunity.

The TPAA elementary campus will have a curriculum similar to the middle/high school campus with the use of Project Lead The Way Launch to provide a seamless education from kindergarten through 12th grade. Students will engage in activities in the fields of engineering, computer sci­ence, and biomedical sci­ence. The elementary cam­­pus will also offer an Advancement Via In­div­id­ual Determination, or AVID, program, along with a reading and writing proj­ect.

“This elementary school is about providing op­por­tunities for our students,” TPAA Headmaster Laura Herman said.

Aerospace Academy board members Patty Rar­don, Jeanna Huerta, and Michelle Gookins, Aero­space Academy students and staff members, and other dignitaries joined Her­man for the ceremony.

The new campus will be built by Bouma USA Inc., the same company that built the existing Aero­space Academy campus.

“We’re really excited to work with Bouma USA,” Herman said. “They work so hard to make sure that what we have going on is what our program needs and what’s best for our kids.”

The elementary campus will be about 62,000 square feet. There will be a maker space in every class­room and movable walls to allow for grade-level wide collaboration. There will also be fully enclosed play areas.

The two-story class­room building will have approximately 13 class­rooms per floor with room for about 600 stu­dents, said Doug Bouma, CEO of Bouma USA.

“If you’ve seen the gym­nasium here the new gym­nasium will actually be larger,” Bouma said.

The new gymnasium will be able to accommodate up to 900 people. A cafeteria similar to the Aerospace Academy’s cafeteria will be able to accommodate up to 200 students. Bouma showed a 3D video rep­re­sen­tation of the new campus that architect Dan Henrickson narrated.

The new campus will be ready to welcome students in nine months’ time for the start of the 2019-20 academic year.

“We’re used to these kind of deadlines,” Hen­rick­son said.

The elementary campus will cost about $30 million including a new athletic complex across 35h Street East that will have three soc­cer fields, a full-size track, and a building with locker rooms and a con­ces­sion stand.

The campus is being built with California Mu­ni­ci­pal Finance Auth­or­­ity revenue bonds is­sued through the city of Palm­dale. That is the same fi­nan­cing model used for the existing campus.

The middle/high school Aerospace Academy cam­pus has an estimated 800-student waiting list. Stu­dents who are on the list will need to reapply in January. Siblings of current Aerospace Acad­emy students will be given pri­or­ity enrollment at the elementary campus. Her­man estimated that is about 300 students. En­roll­ment will be based on the lottery system, similar to the existing campus.

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