Community gets a look at Woodland Elementary renovations

A special rededication and ribbon-cutting ceremony offered the Zephyrhills community an up-close and in-depth look at the newly renovated Woodland Elementary School.

More than 100 guests attended an event that showcased the school’s $12 million makeover, at 38203 Henry Drive in Zephyrhills.

Following introductions and a brief presentation, attendees were able to tour the campus, which was complete in time for the start of the 2018-2019 school year in August.

Pasco County School District Officials mark the rededication of Woodland Elementary School in Zephyrhills. The school was built in 1976. (Kevin Weiss)

Renovations included the addition of more than 100 paved parking spaces, a new and expanded administration suite, 12 additional classrooms, a new art room, two new music rooms, an expanded student drop-off loop for parents, and a renovated kitchen and cafeteria, with a multipurpose room and stage.

Funding for the improvements came through Penny for Pasco.

The enlarged cafeteria allows the school to cater to twice as many students at one time, which helps the school trim the time needed to serve lunch.

Before the renovations, lunch would begin as early as 10:15 a.m., to serve all students.

Woodland principal Shauntte Butcher said the new cafeteria also “provides for a perfect venue for community outreach and parent involvement.”

She noted the cafeteria has already hosted a standing-room-only open house, and accommodated hundreds for parent and grandparent breakfasts, PTA meetings and so on.

It also doubles as an auditorium space to host concerts, plays, talent shows and more.

“We have the opportunities to do things like never before,” Butcher said. “The possibilities and opportunities are endless.”

Meantime, Woodland’s old cafeteria has been repurposed into four classrooms, and the old kitchen is now a lab for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or what is being called a STEM-nasium.

The $12 million renovation of Woodland Elementary School included the addition of more than 100 paved parking spaces, a new and expanded administration suite, 12 additional classrooms, a new art room, two new music rooms, an expanded student drop-off loop for parents, and a renovated kitchen and cafeteria, with a multipurpose room and stage. Funding for the improvements came through Penny for Pasco.

The STEM-nasium will be equipped with a 3D printer, thanks to a $2,000 donation from the Pasco Education Foundation — presented during the rededication ceremony.

Butcher said Woodland students “are genuinely excited to use the technology featured in the STEM-nasium,” adding it also provides “creative, innovative learning stations for group collaboration.”

Other improvements include new furniture for the school’s existing classrooms, media center and teacher workroom. Restrooms were updated, too.

When the school was built in 1976, it was designed for 652 students.

As enrollment grew, more and more portable classrooms were moved onto campus to accommodate students.

The school’s new capacity is 900.

Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning said the renovations were long overdue to the decades-old campus.

“It’s beautiful,” Browning said of the new-look school. “We are super excited about it, and we’re super excited about the teachers that teach here and the administration that leads this school, and, I’m excited about the future of the kids at this school.”

Said Butcher, who’s been at the school as principal since 2016: “To think about where the school has come from 40 years ago, to where it is now, is truly amazing. Never in my wildest dreams did I think, when I began my first principalship here, that I would be leading the renovation of a school.”

Published October 10, 2018

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