Lodi Elementary Principal

Change is hard no matter how positive it can be. Over the years I would hear my parents complain when things would change at the grocery store or the front page of the paper looked different. I thought, what’s the big deal? Well, now I find myself in this beautiful new school and for many of us it is a big deal. Parents are adjusting to the drop off and pick up lane with many more vehicles and students in it.

The community is working through the adjustments of increased traffic on Sauk Street. Kobussen, the bus company, is figuring out what the best routes, order and times are to pick students up to get them to their respective schools on time. Staff and students are trying out different traffic patterns within the building to get them to lunch, recess, and specials in the quickest and most efficient way. Staff from different buildings are coming together to teach and nurture children.

Change forces us to deal with uncertainty and our survival instinct causes us to go into “alert” mode when we approach new situations. I have to say this community and staff have done an amazing job adjusting to this huge change. We are about six weeks into the school year and things at the new Lodi Primary School, at 1307 Sauk St., are starting to run pretty smoothly.

The journey getting us here started years ago with the school board working together with the community to assess educational needs and passing a referendum to replace the oldest school in the district. Here we are three years later with an amazing new school.

Architects from Plunkett Raysich met with staff to get input and ideas, which resulted in a design for the building that included space that met the needs of all students, and also integrated many natural features found in Wisconsin. The levels of the building represent different levels left by the glaciers. If you walk through you will notice the blues, greens, yellows and reds found in nature. Blue tiles running through the center of the hallways represent babbling brooks. Externally, the stone walls are representative of rock formations. Window patterns are shaped like stacked stones found at Devil’s Lake and the brick color variations are taken from those seen along the Ice Age Trail.

All of this planning and designing translated into a building with great spaces for learning. There is plenty of space for students to learn through movement and active exploration. There is an abundance of natural lighting and the views from all the windows are spectacular, with several unique spaces for students to gather and learn. From the two sets of learning stairs that make great stages for readers’ theaters, plays, or other presentations, to the collaboration space on the main floor that can be used as a reading lounge or just a space to stretch out and learn on comfortable seating.

The PTO should not go unrecognized for all of their fundraising efforts to make Heritage Park, our playground, a unique and exciting place to play. This play space echoes the natural theme with the use of small hills. Boulders dug from the site and wood harvested from Lodi’s Ice Age Trail were also integrated into the playground design. With the funds raised by the PTO we have been able to add rubber matting, so that wheelchairs can move easily around the playground, a snake slide, rope climbs and many other natural and music play features.

The transition to a new school has been well worth the stresses and challenges. I am lucky to work in such a supportive community with so many hard working, dedicated and caring people!

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