Lafayette Meadows unveils expansion

The fourth-grade hall at Lafayette Meadows is drenched with natural light from a large window at the end of the hall. Each room has a garage door that can be opened or shut to provide quiet when needed and foster collaboration with other classes when open. (Cindy Larson)

By Cindy Larson

Garage doors in a classroom?

Yep, that’s a thing, and it’s no longer reserved for shop class.

Lafayette Meadows Elementary School has just completed a 22,000-square-foot, 12-classroom expansion, and the fourth- and fifth-grade classes now have garage doors that open into an interior corridor. When students are using the corridor or collaborating with another class, the doors can be open. When quiet time is required, the opaque doors can be closed.

New tables in the classrooms are modular and can be configured in many different ways. Students’ chairs are designed so they wiggle, just a little — maybe absorbing a little of that excess energy that kids accumulate after sitting for a while.

A close look at some sections of wall in the halls of the new wing reveal they aren’t actually walls at all, but expansive white boards that can be written on with markers, and then erased.

Garage doors have been built into the new fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms at Lafayette Meadows Elementary. The bottom panes are opaque, so when the doors are down they provide privacy. When the doors are open, classes can expand out into the corridor for different learning opportunities. (Cindy Larson)

On those days when being inside is too confining, a new usable, educationally based courtyard is accessible from the new wing. “We will have fourth- and fifth-graders in charge of keeping it weeded and watered and trash picked up,” said Lafayette Meadows Principal Jenny Fedele.

Sounds like a good deal for the fourth- and fifth-graders, but what about the rest of the school?

“Not just one or two grade levels got all the new stuff,” Fedele said. 

The $10 million expansion also includes a new, 5,000-square-foot auxiliary gym so two physical education classes can be going at once. The cafeteria has been expanded, and the carpet was replaced by hard-surface floors.

Principal Jenny Fedele stands in the new fifth-grade wing at Lafayette Meadows, 11420 Ernst Road, Roanoke, where a white board serves as a wall and a makeshift blackboard. (Cindy Larson)

The playground has been relocated and the front office has been reconfigured and upgraded.

Kindergarten classroom space now encompasses 3,500 square feet.

Changes also include a new parking lot and new traffic pattern with improved pick-up and drop-off lanes.

The school enrollment is close to 700 students, making it the second-largest elementary school in the Southwest Allen County Schools district.