JCPS going back to the future with reopening of Alex R. Kennedy - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS going back to the future with reopening of Alex R. Kennedy Elementary

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Alex R. Kennedy Elementary School (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News) Alex R. Kennedy Elementary School (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News)
Workbooks and textbooks are sorted by grade level in the cafeteria of Alex R. Kennedy Elementary School (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News) Workbooks and textbooks are sorted by grade level in the cafeteria of Alex R. Kennedy Elementary School (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News)
Renovation of the front office at Alex R. Kennedy Elementary School (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News) Renovation of the front office at Alex R. Kennedy Elementary School (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News)
Bathroom sinks have been lowered so younger children can reach them at Alex R. Kennedy Elementary School (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News) Bathroom sinks have been lowered so younger children can reach them at Alex R. Kennedy Elementary School (Photo by Toni Konz, WDRB News)
Photo courtesy of Tina Salameh Photo courtesy of Tina Salameh

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After 20 years as an alternative middle school, the Alex R. Kennedy school building in Jeffersontown will once again hear the pitter patter of little feet.

"It will be the first time for elementary students to be educated in this building in about 33 years," said Kevin Nix, a longtime administrator for Jefferson County Public Schools who was selected to be the new principal of Alex R. Kennedy in April. "This is a school that was built to serve elementary children. We are very excited to see what the future holds."

A one-room schoolhouse first sat on the Taylorsville Road property from 1881 until 1925. In 1955, JCPS built a new school and named it Alex R. Kennedy Elementary in honor of the man who had donated the land, Nix said.

The school operated as an elementary school until 1981, when it closed due to a declining student population.

It became a book depository in 1982 until 1996, when JCPS converted it into an alternative school for middle school students.

Last summer, the Jefferson County Board of Education voted to convert the building back into an elementary school to help ease overcrowding concerns in eastern Louisville.

Tina Salameh, who attended Alex R. Kennedy Elementary from 1970-76 says the school was the "anchor of her childhood."

"As a neighborhood kid, it was where we rode our bikes all year, went sledding in the winter, and flew our kites in the spring," said Salameh, whose mother still lives in a house adjacent to the property. "At the end of each summer, we would eagerly wait at the front doors for class listings to be posted."

"I am truly excited that Kennedy is once again an elementary school," she said. 

The school will open next month with approximately 200 students -- some of whom who were reassigned from Klondike Lane, Cochrane and St. Matthews elementaries, district officials say. It's in Cluster 8, which also includes also includes Bates, Farmer, Fern Creek, Jeffersontown, Watterson and Wheeler elementary schools.

It will also house four pre-kindergarten classrooms as part of the district's effort to expand early childhood education.

District officials have been busy renovating the school this summer -- a total cost of approximately $207,000.

As Nix gave a tour of the school's classrooms, hallways, gymnasium and cafeteria on Friday, he noted that a lot of work must still be done before the first day of school.

Some walls have been torn down, others have been put up. There is new tile on the floor. Bathroom sinks have been lowered so younger children can reach them. And the library has doubled in size as it awaits nearly 8,000 books that will arrive the first week of August.

Boxes filled with classroom supplies, workbooks and textbooks sit on tables in the cafeteria, waiting to be sorted by grade level. Ninety-one new computers are still packed in boxes inside the gymnasium, ready to be installed and placed in classrooms.

"We've taken everything down that needed to be taken down, now we just have to put it all back together," he said. "One of the challenges we had was that not only did we bring new stuff in, we also had to get the old stuff out."

All of the school's furniture will arrive this week and teachers will begin moving into their classrooms on Friday.

The district has ordered new signage for the building, which still has it labeled as Kennedy Metro Middle School, as well as for the marquee that sits on Taylorsville Road. 

Last week, Nix and the school's assistant principal Patrick Sivori, put up a colorful, temporary sign that hints at an overall theme for the new year.

The district's slogan, "Shaping the Future" was incorporated into a logo that looks like the one from "Back to the Future." It also illustrates a countdown noting the destination time as 9:05 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2015.

"I think the theme fits this school well," he said. "And we can't wait to see our students."

RELATED | New principals take over at several JCPS schools for 2015-16 year

PREVIOUS | School board votes to convert Alex Kennedy Metro Middle School to elementary school

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter. 

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