Meadow View Elementary School is nearly identical architecturally to Token Springs Elementary School — the two Sun Prairie schools were built at the same time — but Meadow View’s unconventional location sets it apart.
Meadow View is on the city’s growing west side, where commercial development is continually being built in and near the Shoppes of Prairie Lakes. Grand on Main — which will feature retail, restaurant and office space — is under construction next to the school.
The closest homes are across the four-lane, divided North Grand Avenue and have their backs to the front of the school.
When asked about their favorite part of the school, its proximity to stores and restaurants didn’t make the top of the lists of students interviewed, but the development isn’t below their radars either.
“After school, I feel like I want to go to Target,” fifth-grader Greta Tomlinson said.
Fifth-grader Regene Williams wished the school had an open campus so students could go out to eat.
“We have also the safest school in the district just because we are so close to the fire department and the police,” fifth-grader Shravani Chennamsetty said of the city building across the street and just a short hop from Meadow View.
Principal Cynthia Bell Jimenez was hired before the school opened to help plan for its opening.
“It’s not inside of a neighborhood,” Bell Jimenez said. “Token Springs is in more of a neighborhood (with) house, house, house and then a school.”
She said there are advantages and disadvantages to the site. While the school is on a busy road, it is set below it, which allows for some privacy, and the playground is at the back of the school so it is safer, she said.
Because the school is in such a visible spot and teal is part of the exterior color scheme, which draws attention to it, Bell Jimenez believes it is an opportunity to be more a part of the community because so many people are curious about it.
Phil Frei, director of business and finance for the Sun Prairie School District, said finding a workable site to build a school is not always easy and in this case, the district needed 20 to 30 acres. The district reached out to the property owner, Norman Danielson, who was willing to sell 60 acres next to 90 acres the district has to build a second high school, which was just approved by a referendum.
“Any piece of land, there’s going to be pros and cons … We thought it was a good location because it is an area of high growth in the district,” Frei said. “The price that he gave us was considerably less than market price. That was a donation from Norm.”
Half of the 287 students walk, and the rest take the bus.
The school features large windows, including some in makerspaces that roll up like a garage door. Multi-grade areas have classrooms with glass dividing walls that can open and that also open to large, multipurpose collaborative spaces.
The entire building was designed to facilitate collaboration, while offering different settings according to how different students work best. Offices for student services are scattered around the school, and each cluster of classrooms has a teacher work area and conference room.
The gym, which has a high school regulation-size basketball court, and the cafeteria are divided by a stage area, and the whole space can be opened up to make one big area.
The consensus among students interviewed seemed to be that the big gym with a wood floor was a major asset to the school, Fifth-grader Elijah Ly also said he liked all the light in the school because of the windows.
Fifth-grader Sujittha Prem Anand said students have “a lot of privileges” because of the choices they have in where they want to do their work.
Greta, who came from another school district, said she liked the racial diversity of the school, and fifth-grader Don’ielle Spivey likes the “loving and caring” teachers.