First look at new Madrona K-8 school, opening to students in January


A new year will also mean a new campus as the wait for Madrona K-8’s new school building in Edmonds reaches its final stages. Students, teachers and faculty will be able to move into the recently-constructed building when classes resume after winter break on Jan. 7.

Built 12 feet from the former school site, the new state-of-the-art building will be equipped with advances like power-locking doors and color-coded lighting alarms for the school’s Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) students.

The new campus will include longer driveways for both bus and parent drop off and pickup, which Project Manager Taine Wilton said will help to improve the school’s previous traffic problem.

“A ton of parents drive and so last year at this time you had to time when you arrive,” she said. “Because the cars stacked up along 236th all the way down to the light.”

The campus no longer has a football field, but has included a soccer field, playground, covered play area, all-weather track, Wilton said.

The building, which Wilton said is still “a work in progress,” is going through the final stages of construction and electrical maintenance. Though the building will be complete when the students resume classes after the winter break, some landscaping work will still be underway, Wilton said.

As the regional DHH school, Madrona’s new campus will cater to the roughly 150 DHH students enrolled by featuring color-coded lighting alarms — white for fire, amber for a lockdown and blue acting a class bell.

“When you see a blue light, that basically means go back to class,” Wilton said.

Offices for DHH include both a flashing light and high-pitched buzzer that will be more effective than a knock on the door, Wilton said.

Wilton said classrooms will also be interchangeable, meaning each classroom will be able to serve as a learning space for all students, DHH or otherwise.

“It’s almost like two schools in a school,” Wilton said.

The main hallway off the entrance will be a communal learning space lined with sofas and tables for students to study on their Chromebooks and leads into the school’s lunch room, or commons area, which also serves as a classroom.

Wilton said Madrona — which serves students districtwide — is the only school in the Edmonds School District to not have designated men and women’s restrooms, instead opting for “everybody toilets.”

“These are very forward-thinking toilets,” she said. “Each one is a toilet room.”

The school’s music department will have its own corridor lined with lockers for storing instruments and separate rooms for band, orchestra and backdoor access to the gym’s stage, where music class will take place. The stage will be interchangeable — it can be closed off from the gym and used as a classroom or a cyclorama will be able to provide a backdrop for the stage during assemblies.

Marona’s library was designed early on to be “the heart of the school,” said Project Coordinator Michael Nelson.

“That’s why it’s kind of centrally located between Building One and the learning center pods,” he said. “This was strategically placed in the main courtyard.”

Madrona’s library was painted a specific shade of green, inspired by the tree the school is named after, Wilton said.

The learning center pods are five buildings on campus where Nelson said most of the students’ education will take place, but every space on campus is a learning space for weekly activities.

Madrona has a multi-age structure, with each primary class consisting of first-, second- and third-grade students; intermediate with fourth, fifth and sixth graders; and middle school classes combining seventh and eighth grades.

Learning center pods will house 54 students, with two teachers teaching 27 students on separate sides of the center. The centers can be open for joint teaching or closed off into two separate rooms depending on the lesson plan, Wilton said.

“The students can flow back and forth, depending on subject matter,” she said. “They usually have a morning meeting and they can have it open so all the students can sit together.”

All of the classroom spaces have in-floor heating, with some of the heating system visible through a transparent portion of the floor of a science classroom. Nelson said this could serve as a learning opportunity for students studying thermodynamics.

Madrona will also include outdoor learning spaces for the students. A courtyard designed for outdoor learning is accessible from each classroom equipped with power, water, WiFi and covering for all weather, Wilton said.

“Maybe (for example) this intermediate zenith in renaissance wants to do a science experiment they can gather in this larger courtyard,” she said. “Or let’s say they want to go to the wetlands they can just go through the gates.”

In addition to an outdoor theater, Madrona’s courtyards have the potential for student involvement in gardening.

“There are some very involved green-thumb staff and volunteers at this school that can help students become good heralds of their environment,” Nelson said.

Keeping students’ safety in mind, outdoor learning areas will be securely gated.

“Think of this as a corridor outside,” Wilton said about the courtyard sidewalks.

Construction for the new school was halted during negotiations with Olympic View Water & Sewer District. Wilton said Olympic View, which gets 40 percent of its water from the aquifer, was concerned about drainage from Madrona’s storm-water wells. An agreement was negotiated when monitor wells were added to Madrona’s drainage system.

“We elected to change some things,” she said. “We elected to work with the Department of Health.”

Wilton said the Department of Health was “overjoyed” and Madrona was the “poster child” for storm water.

— Story and photos by Cody Sexton


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