Lower School project a top priority at Waynflete School in Portland

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PORTLAND — A project to substantially renovate and add onto the Lower School at Waynflete, a private school serving more than 550 students, is moving steadily along.

The latest update from the general contractor indicated that the flooring for each level of the new school was ready to be poured before the holiday break, which ends Wednesday.

The $12 million project at Waynflete, on Spring Street in the West End, includes doubling the size of the Lower School, which houses students in pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, and building a new gymnasium.

The capital improvement project will increase the size of the Lower School from 20,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet, while the new gym will be 13,600-square-feet in size, according to the school.

The new Lower School, which should be completed sometime in the summer of 2018, will include classroom space, as well as a library, an amphitheater, and “new spaces for innovation,” the Waynflete website states.

“Classrooms have been designed to emphasize modularity and flexibility, offering new opportunities for cross-grade collaboration,” the site adds.

Construction began in earnest last June, and between the work on the Lower School and the new gym, it’s the largest construction and renovation project in the school’s history. Waynflete was founded in 1898 and occupies 5 acres in a tight-knit residential neighborhood.

The Lower School consists of two buildings, one a former stable built more than 100 years ago that will be renovated and a newer section built in the 1960s that was torn down and will be completely replaced.

A new Lower School for Waynflete was part of the institution’s long-term strategic plan and the goal is to “meet the teaching and community needs of our youngest students” while creating “better opportunities for active learning, community-building activities and quiet reflection,” according to the school’s website.

The curriculum at the Lower School is designed to emphasize “active, experiential learning … based on our knowledge that young children learn best by exploring ideas through concrete, authentic experiences,” the website states.

“For a number of years, we have recognized that significant changes must be made to the Lower School’s physical infrastructure in order to effectively support these program goals,” the site says.

In addition, the new Lower School is specifically designed to “enhance the student learning experience through (a) purposeful balance between communal and individualized learning spaces that accommodate both active curiosity and quiet concentration,” the website says.

Other goals of the new Lower School project include providing younger students with an expanded art studio and easier access to outdoor play and learning areas.

“The construction of a new Lower School is the top infrastructure priority at Waynflete,” the website says.

“With approximately double the square footage, the new facility will provide a more accessible learning environment and the essential spaces needed to engage students in hands-on exploration specifically designed for the developmental needs of each program.”

In addition to the Lower School project, Waynflete is also raising money to invest in the school’s financial aid program, increase faculty salaries and professional development, and expand the Waynflete Fund.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

An overview of construction at Waynflete School on Portland’s West End. The school is putting $12 million into the project.

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