Neshaminy families and teachers get a look inside the new Tawanka Elementary School

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Neshaminy’s newest school opened its doors to the public for the first time on Thursday evening.

Parents, students and teachers got a sneak peek at the sprawling, 900-student Tawanka Elementary School, before the first students report on Aug. 31.

The new school is the centerpiece of Neshaminy’s consolidation efforts, which included the closing of three of the district’s eight elementary schools, renovating the remaining five and moving fifth-graders up to the middle schools.

Most parents seemed impressed by the 111,800-square-foot facility, complete with 40 classrooms, and “pods” or separated sections for each grade level, kindergarten through fourth grade.

Each pod has several traditional classrooms and a central common area designed as a more open-concept learning space. There are similar common learning areas throughout the building.

The state-of-the-art cafetorium, a combined cafeteria and auditorium, has retractable doors that can divide it from the rest of the school, which makes it amenable for hosting community events.

“That’s one thing we wanted, to make it a great community space,” district spokesperson Chris Stanley said.

The library also looks like a community space, but set up for the students with sets of circular tables, two semi-circle desks with elevated chairs around them, a lounge-like area with cushioned chairs and benches and a divided classroom.

Throughout the building, there’s an added perk

“The whole district is going to a gigabyte system, so there’s screaming fast Internet,” Stanley said. “It’s going to support the iPads, the Chromebooks, which the kids are getting, all the desktops, whatever else comes along.”

Those who attended also saw the gym, which has six basketball hoops and a high ceiling. Outside, there are two playgrounds, a smaller one in the back of the school for kindergarten students and a larger one out front for the big kids.

Parts of the second floor were off-limits for visitors during the open house, because the district is still awaiting certification for the elevator. That is expected to be taken care of by next week, Stanley said.

During the school board meeting earlier in the week, Ryan Brennan of Reynolds Construction, the company handling the Tawanka building, said some of the minor aspects of the project may trickle into September.

“This was a very complicated project in the time frame that we had,” he said. “I think the contractor did a great job. There are some things that you’ll see that won’t be 100 percent complete, but overall, it was a very successful project.”

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