Hawthorn School District 73 hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 24 to celebrate the opening of its new kindergarten building. The new two-story Hawthorn School for Young Learners provides 16 classrooms interconnected with makerspaces, collaboration spaces, and reading and math centers.
“This moment has been a long time coming,” said Board of Education President Robin Cleek. “We identified the need to add space more than three years ago. The referendum question allowing this to be done was approved in November 2018, and construction began in the spring of 2019. Building the Hawthorn School for Young Learners is possible because of the collaborative relationship District 73 has with the Park District, Library and Village, and the support from the voters through the 2018 referendum. We’re grateful for the backing from the community, and hope to hold an open house for everyone once it’s safe to do so.”
The $13.5 million, 41,000-square-foot building relieves space constraints at the District’s elementary schools. It consolidates approximately 265 kindergarten students from Elementary North, Townline Elementary, Aspen Elementary and Elementary South. Forty staff from the elementary schools have also moved to the new building.
Flexibility is a central theme. Designed by the Chicago-based DLR Group, the classrooms were designed to allow for extensive movement and collaboration. The classroom partitions, furniture and storage units are movable in such a way that spaces can easily be transformed and regrouped as activities change. The first floor includes a multi-purpose space, sensory room, art studio, a hallway that connects to the Sullivan Community Center gym, and an administrative suite that also serves as a storm shelter. The second floor includes an active play space and a staff collaboration space for professional development. Outside, an enclosed courtyard features a state-of-the-art playground.
Dr. Jill Martin, the former principal of Hawthorn Elementary South, was recently named the principal of the new school. “I am honored to be chosen as principal of this building and to be able to create an exceptional first experience for our young learners that will foster a love of learning. Having all our kindergarten students together allows us to bring more consistency to the delivery model for our kindergarten curriculum and helps us plan special events and activities solely focused on 5-year olds.”
The Hawthorn School for Young Learners is part of a cooperative effort between the Vernon Hills Park District, the Cook Memorial Public Library District, The Village of Vernon Hills and District 73. “This unique partnership has led to substantial savings and benefits for the entire community,” said District 73 Superintendent Dr. Pete Hannigan.
Located at 637 N. Aspen Drive in Vernon Hills, the building is the first of several projects in the District’s $48.7 million Educational Facilities Master Plan approved by voters in 2018. Other projects currently moving forward include the renovation/additions at Middle School North and Elementary South.