Norfolk to open new elementary schools next week

NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — When school starts next Tuesday, some Norfolk students probably won’t believe their eyes.

That’s because Larchmont and Ocean View Elementary schools are brand new and that might actually increase test scores.

Norfolk breaks ground on Ocean View Elementary

That’s right. School buildings may just be bricks and mortar — but some studies show the better and brighter the learning environment, the better the students’ attitudes toward learning and it can raise achievement scores.

The new schools look different on the outside, but inside the designs are almost identical. They have different color schemes, but each features a massive “gymtorium.”

WAVY.com Back-to-School Guide

That’s basically a room that serves as an auditorium, then converts to a cafeteria and a gym.

“You just walk in and you are ready to learn and teach and have fun and exercise … so this is really what it’s all about,” School Board Chairman, Rodney Jordan told 10 On Your Side.

Norfolk breaks ground on new Larchmont Elementary

Both schools have large science labs, state-of-the-art media centers and new technology — including smart boards twice the size of the old ones.

Ocean View Principal, Dr. James Peterson told WAVY.com, “Whether they’re 90 years old or 3 years old, they’re just ecstatic to be here to see this beautiful new building.”

Peterson showed us the koi desks — which allow teachers to get creative with seating arrangement. The furniture is all new.

Well, almost all of it.

Peterson showed us two old benches in the front hallway, which he says “were donated to the school by the class of 1940.”

Gallery: New Norfolk schools opening in 2017

Ocean View is keeping sentimental pieces from the old building. The large old school bell that rang for decades in the neighborhood now sits in the new courtyard. It’s just a stones throw from the old school that opened in 1939.

The old Larchmont opened in 1930. Both of the old buildings are now coming down, making way for brighter buildings and bright futures.

Norfolk committed to building five new schools in a public private partnership with SB Ballard construction a few years ago.

They opened two last fall, and anticipate opening another next year.

Jordan said the city has lots of old buildings and the school board will continue to advocate for refurbishing or replacing schools that need it.