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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Education

New Sacajawea and Peperzak middle schools will open in 2023

UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 27, 2021

Once the dust settles in the fall of 2023, the new Sacajawea Middle School will be an even better neighbor.

Trees will rise along the east and southern edges of the grounds, framing a modern building that will be more inviting.

Gone will be the 1950s-era school complex of four long buildings.

“The light and the feel of outside coming inside, no longer do you walk into those dark hallways,” said Greg Forsyth, the director of capital projects for Spokane Public Schools, describing the large panels of glass that will be a dominate feature.

“I think it also gives community to the school – that was one of the things the design focus group worked hard to accomplish, to have that feeling of community.”

On Wednesday night, the community and the district’s board of directors got their first good look at the plans for the new Sacajawea and the new Carla Peperzak Middle School on the upper South Hill.

They are paid for by a $495 million capital bond approved in 2018. The schools will open in the fall of 2023 to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students who will then move on to Lewis and Clark High School.

The new buildings will be worth the wait.

The new Sacajawea will hug the northeast corner of the property, with varied exteriors to replace the solid brick profile of the current building.

An exterior of predominantly brown brick is mean to blend with older buildings nearby.

“We’re using a lot of the historic nature of the South Hill in a modern way,” Forsyth said. “I think it’s going to be such a long-lasting addition to the area.”

Classrooms will be contained in two-story “neighborhoods,” one for each grade level, a theme used in the nearly-complete projects at Shaw and Glover middle schools.

Schematics of the interior reveal a student entry that leads into a lounge area. Beyond that lies a spacious commons that’s a smaller version of the one at Lewis and Clark.

The Peperzak project offers a different perspective.

The property, adjacent to Mullan Road Elementary, fronts 63rd Avenue on the north. However, to the south, it overlooks the rolling hills of the Palouse.

Designed by Integrus Architecture of Spokane, it maximizes that view by placing the classroom neighborhoods at the south end of the property.

“It’s very 21st century, and you can see that by looking at the exterior renderings,” Forsyth said.

Those exteriors also play off the landscape, with brick facings of dark brown and wheat.

“We also worked hard with the landscaping to keep it more native and natural because of that prairie feel,” Forsyth said.

Because the building doesn’t front on a street, parents will drop off students on 63rd Avenue, while buses will loop via 65th Avenue.

For both buildings, construction documents are scheduled for completion in January, with construction to begin in March 2022.

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