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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