The new-building smell at Selkirk Middle School may wear off before school starts on Wednesday but it was still evident last week when Central Valley School District officials welcomed the community members to their newest school, which was completed this month.
The school, at 1409 N. Harvest Parkway in Liberty Lake, has been under construction since April 2018. It will accommodate 600 students in a building with large, plentiful windows letting in abundant natural light.
The school will be led by principal Ty Larsen, who was previously the principal of Bowdish Middle School. During last week’s dedication ceremony Larsen said the inspiration for the school’s name came from Mica Peak, which is easily visible in the stunning view from the school’s second-floor library.
Mica Peak is the southernmost peak of the Selkirk Mountain Range, Larsen said. “Mountains are tough to climb and a pretty big challenge,” he said.
Larsen said he’s been working to create the school from scratch for 497 days, not that he’s counting.
“It’s real,” he said. “All the planning and hopes and dreams are real. More than anything I’m excited for the kids to open up their new gift.”
School board member Mysti Reneau thanked those in attendance for approving the district’s construction bond in early 2018.
“Our community saw overcrowded schools and said, ‘Let’s fix it,’ ” she said. “Thank you so much for that.”
Reneau said she was excited to see the “innovative and technologically advanced facility” open to students. “This building is a wonderful example of your tax dollars at work,” she said.
Liberty Lake Mayor Steve Peterson said he’s excited to see Selkirk complete and construction underway on Ridgeline High School across the freeway and thanked the school board for building new schools.
“Our kids can now enter into kindergarten and graduate high school without leaving the city boundaries,” he said. “You are great partners for our city.”
Superintendent Ben Small said Selkirk continues the expansion work the district has been doing for several years. “It’s not often that a school district opens a new school, and this will be the third new school in the Central Valley School District since 2016.”
He said the district was able to produce a “practical, functional and great looking school delivered on time and $2.9 million under budget.”
The district was able to save money partly because it reused the design from the new North Pines Middle School with slight adaptations. “This campus will be a community gathering place for many years to come,” he said.
Small said Larsen and his team have devoted many hours to make sure everything in the school is ready to go on the first day. “I guarantee our students will have an excellent opportunity the day they walk through the door,” he said.
Not all the people who came to the dedication are parents of incoming students. Doris and Rod Butler came because they’ve been watching the construction for over a year. “We are neighbors,” said Doris Butler. “We live on the other side of Orchard Park.”
She said she was impressed by the building. “It’s beautiful,” she said. “The view out the windows, all the light, it’s fantastic. Even in the gym I could see the high windows and you could see the mountains.”
Band and orchestra teacher Darcy Nord was in her new classroom after the dedication to give tours to students or parents who came in. She previously taught at North Pines Middle School for 10 years and said she applied to come to Selkirk.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher at a brand-new school,” she said.
She’s been nearly giddy about her brand-new instruments that have been arriving over the summer.
“I’ve been opening boxes and new instruments for weeks and putting them together,” she said. “As a band director that’s like Christmas.”