The design of the Mexican school as a welcoming learning environment

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Jeanne LaPointe, director of nutrition for Regional School Unit 10 in Rumford, places stickers next to the words and ideas that she sees as priorities for a new school for students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 in Rumford and from Mexico. The graphic was part of a community forum this month at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. Marianne Hutchinson / Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD – The vision for a new school for elementary and junior high school students in Rumford and Mexico will be a “welcoming and collaborative learning environment,” according to the final design statement.

The statement was shared on Wednesday evening at a Zoom meeting between Architects Harriman of Auburn and the School Building Committee for Regional School Unit 10. Based on ideas proposed at a community forum last week , the statement described the design as a place “where we plant the seeds and cultivate the roots for a strong future.”

Architects Lisa Sawin, Mark Lee and Emilie Waugh led the committee on Wednesday in a discussion on building plans.

The district offers a school for Kindergarten to Grade 8 students at the site of Meroby and Mountain Valley Middle Primary Schools in Mexico. It would house elementary and college students from Rumford and Mexico City.

Superintendent Deb Alden said last week that the Maine Department of Education would consider the site’s application for approval, “likely in July.”

Sawin said some ideas presented at a workshop last month as guiding principles for the design were:

• Adequate storage space.

• Facilities adapted to development.

• Non-isolated special education rooms.

• Natural light.

• Spaces for non-sporting extracurricular activities.

• Indoor and outdoor performing arts spaces.

• Adequate meeting space, especially private special education meetings.

Other ideas, including from a community survey, listed the importance of supporting social and emotional learning, curricula and space for science, technology, engineering and math, arts, community access, a small school model and a connection to nature.

The four priorities of the building are, in order: a secure and welcoming entrance; natural light and nature views; space for hands-on learning; and hubs for student gatherings.

The Harriman team showed videos of interiors and exteriors of new schools in Holbrook, Massachusetts, and Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The school building committee also looked at diagrams of the Paris elementary school for preschool to grade 6 and a Farmington school for preschool to grade 2 that features a circular entrance to the yard.


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