Students, staff and parents thrilled by new facility
By B.C. Manion
Kids and parents were jazzed last week, as they toured the new elementary school building housing Imagine School at Land O’ Lakes.
“This, to me, is like we’re finally home,” said Magarida Wainraich, who has been on the school’s staff school since Day One.
“I’m jumping out of my skin, I’m so excited,” she said. “This has been a long time coming — after trying to get into so many different places and the sites just always fell through.”
The school previously was located in a professional office park, with classes held in individual buildings.
“It’s a wonderful day – to see the smiles on everyone’s faces,” said Principal Kathy Helean, as people trooped past her during the open house.
“They’ve been waiting 3 ½ years, but I think it has all been worth it.
“By all being under one roof, I think the culture of the school changes because we feel more unified. Teachers see each other in the hallways. Kids see each other in the hallways,” Helean said.
In the school’s media center, something it didn’t have at its former location, a parent congratulated Helean and praised the school’s look and feel.
“It’s so functional. It just looks beautiful,” said Jacki Hudnall, whose 7-year-old daughter Paige attends the school and whose other daughter, Adyson, will attend next year.
The new gym was a huge hit with the kids, who wasted no time in breaking it in.
Hudnall said she understands why the children are so excited about having an indoor gym: “Can you blame them? Three years of 95 degrees heat in that sun.”
Teacher Aimee Wynacht also noted other advantages of having the gym. For one thing, it doubles as a lunchroom and is more spacious than the lunchroom at the previous location.
It also provides a great place to have school assemblies, she said.
“If we have any holiday shows or presentations for parents, we have some place we can hold that now,” said Wynacht, who teaches writing and social studies to kindergartners through second-graders.
She’s also delighted to have interior hallways.
“Where we were before, rainy days were quite a challenge,” she said.
The new school building boasts other new features, too.
“Art and music have their own designated rooms,” Wynacht said.
The school also has a science lab and a media center, said Jennifer Whitten, who teaches mathematics and social studies to children in kindergarten through second-grade.
“We’ll be able to send kids to the library to study and read. We’re very excited about that,” Whitten said.
Wainraich said the new facility enables the school to do more for its students.
“It’s all about the kids and making things easier and more accessible for them. This new facility lets us do that,” Wainraich said.
The charter school serves students in kindergarten through eighth-grade. It draws students primarily from Trinity, Odessa, Land O’ Lakes, Lutz, Wesley Chapel and New Tampa, but also has some students from as far away as Spring Hill, New Port Richey and Riverview, Helean said.
It is authorized for up to 584 students this year, and has about 20 seats available at various grade levels.
The school has grown in size every year since it opened and hopes to get approval for 650 to 660 students next year, Helean said.
It can accept children from Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
For more information about the school, call (813) 428-7444 or visit www.imagineschoollandolakes.com.
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