Board members, staff and administrators of School District 63 in Eastern Maine will meet from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 1 to welcome District 63 families, local leaders and the community in all at a special open house celebrating the new 40,000 square foot District Preschool Learning Center at 10000 Dee Road in Des Plaines.
Members of the public are welcome to drop by the ELC, enjoy refreshments (donated in part by Dunkin ‘Donuts) outside under the marquee, and tour the building (masks required inside). District and school leaders will be on hand to greet guests and answer questions.
The center – which is home to the district’s First Steps Kindergarten – actually opened in August 2020, but a ribbon cut was not considered due to the pandemic. As of January 2021, some of the youngest students in District 63 attended the school in person, while many others learned remotely.
This year, the building opened on August 16 to over 225 preschoolers living in Des Plaines, Glenview, Niles, Morton Grove and Park Ridge.
Highlights of the project include:
• 40,000 square feet of new space – use of natural materials throughout.
• STEM, nutrition and active play learning centers.
• Large playground and a separate sensory play area.
• Geothermal heating and cooling.
• The ground pattern curves throughout the building, echoing the nearby Plains River.
• Independent learning studio.
• Library / performance space.
• Gymnasium for gross motor skills.
The new ELC was recently recognized by American School & University Magazine’s Educational Interior Showcase Awards. Jury of a jury of experts, the program rewards leading educational architectural projects. The center received a Bronze Mention in the Outstanding Design of Preschool / Early Childhood Education category.
As one juror noted, “Each of the shared ‘learning centers’ has a clear purpose and is carefully designed to fulfill that function. Incorporation of elements of biophilia [which connect occupants to the natural environment], including natural lighting and murals, creates a vibrant yet calm environment. “
The ELC is the final piece in the District 63 master plan, which also included the expansion to provide full-time kindergarten, moving all sixth graders into what is now Gemini Middle School, 104,970 square feet. new and improved space at Gemini; and the launch of a new Family Resource Center.
The First Steps Early Learning Center is one of seven schools in East Maine School District 63 that provides a rich learning environment and a multicultural perspective to over 3,500 students.
Committed to teaching excellence that provides all students with the specific opportunities they need to succeed and thrive, its five elementary schools, college, preschool, expanded learning program and family resource center promote the academic, social, emotional and behavioral growth of each student and success.
To learn more, visit www.emsd63.org. Event parking is available on the school grounds.
RSVPs are encouraged by sending an email to [email protected]