Monday, August 27, 2012

Amidon-Bowen Opens New Doors

(This post is an abbreviated version of the South by West article that will appear in September's Hill Rag.)

While children were enjoying their summer break, crews worked seven days a week to complete a $5 million renovation at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, the only elementary school in Southwest. Gone are the red walls and window air conditioning units. In their place is a more modern-looking school for a neighborhood that is rapidly changing. Mayor Gray and DC Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson were on hand today to celebrate the completion of renovations and the first day of school.

New lobby area.
 Renovations at Amidon-Bowen include a new ADA-compliant entrance, a new administrative office suite, a new walk-through from the front to the play area, a new air conditioning system, and re-sized classrooms with technology upgrades and moveable walls. Additional improvements such as a water feature near the front entrance were not included as a cost savings measure. Despite the removal of the water feature from the plans, a maritime theme now permeates throughout the school, where creatures found in the Chesapeake Bay such as barracudas and turtles serve as “mascots” for each grade level pairing along with a new color scheme including blue, green, purple, and orange
The basketball court will be replaced with a soccer/football field and running lanes.
Shortly after the completion of interior renovations, work on some exterior sections will begin. Funding is already in place for the play areas, which will cost $500,000; however, the $1 million needed for installing new windows has yet to be secured. Improvements to the play areas will include two playgrounds, a turf football/soccer field, and a couple of running lanes. The fence near the front of the property will be pushed closer to I Street to make room for a playground for older children. A second playground for younger children will be placed in the back of the property and will be separated from Amidon Field by a controlled-access fence. Currently, there is a playground located closer to the school building, but the positions of the new playgrounds will help reduce noise into the classrooms. The site of the current playground will be replaced by a grassy area. PTA President Marty Welles would like to incorporate the “mascots” and color scheme inside the school to the new playgrounds to help tie the spaces together. The football/soccer field will replace the basketball court that is currently on site – the court will be rebuilt this fall at Lansburgh Park where a neglected tennis court now stands. Next to the turf field will be two running lanes. All of these areas will be open to the public outside of normal school hours. In addition to play areas, a greenhouse is planned for an area next to the playground reserved for younger children. A greenhouse will be able to grow herbs and flowers in the winter time whereas the majority of the growing season for the raised garden beds currently in place occurs when school is not in session.  

Amidon's recently renovated library.
Other recent improvements to Amidon-Bowen include an upgrade to the school’s library last year, courtesy of a grant from Target with new books, technology updates, new furniture, carpet, and shelves. Also, volunteers from Joel Osteen’s group made some landscape improvements outside of the school last spring when the televangelist held a spiritual event nearby at Nationals Park. Future unfunded phases of renovations, in addition to new windows, include improvements to the gymnasium and all-purpose room, as well as improvements to interior systems, such as the installation of an elevator.

Update: There will be an open house on Saturday, September 8 at the school from 10am - 12pm.


Will said...

Will the running lanes be a standard 400M track?

SWill said...

It will be a straight line to practice the 100M dash.

Will said...

Cool, thanks. :)

Bob Craycraft, Executive Director, Waterfront Gateway Neighborhood Association said...

Does anyone know who Margaret G Amidon even was, and why the school is named for her? Can't even find anything on Google!

SWill said...

I've been told that Margaret M. Amidon was a schoolteacher of Irish descent. Not sure when she was a teacher in DC.

Nuncle said...

Margaret Milburn began teaching in southwest DC in about 1843 when she organized her own school. The District hired her, and later promoted her to principal of a female grammar school. Her pupils were thought to perform at an outstanding level during the public examinations before the trustees. She married Mr. Amidon in 1862, but continued to teach. In 1869 tuberculosis ended first her career, and then her life. The next year her friends and champions bought about a prize and medal, in her name, awarded to the fourth district schoolgirl who each year was voted "most distinguished for amiability and scholarship." I do not know for how long the medal was awarded; I've only been able to find reference to the first three of four. See Resolution 15-82 in and many references via Google Books search.

Btw, she is also a relative of mine. I'm curious to know if her portrait still hangs at the Amidon school.