All Saints Episcopal School is back in session later this week and families got a sneak peak of the finished Lower School renovations during an open house on Tuesday.

The Lower School classrooms have been made to look like different styles of homes, reminiscent of a San Francisco neighborhood, with “16-bit” styles of trees stretching into the air in the style of popular video game Minecraft.

Head of School Mike Cobb said the goal is to make students feel welcome, and making the classrooms look like a neighborhood was a great way to make students feel at home.

Heather Hill, whose son Nolan will be starting pre-K, said he was blown away when he saw his new school.

“I think this is phenomenal,” she said. “It’s so fun. It’s like being in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Hill said she’s excited to see the potential this learning environment can unlock in children.

The new classrooms have a fabrication station for older students or an in-class bathroom in the lower grades, a patio area and a floor-to-ceiling tree in a corner designed to encourage collaboration.

Also new this year is the CIA (Collaboration, Inquiry and Action) Room that last year’s sixth grade class designed for current fifth- and sixth-graders. Each year the sixth grade class designs a project to renovate a portion of campus for students who come after them.

Cobb said the class used empathy in their design, creating an area that will give those grades their own innovative learning space and a spot for teachers to come and relax.

Crews also are working to finish the school’s new Science Exploratorium geodesic dome learning center on campus, which will transport students to the bottom of the ocean or the surface of Mars for interactive learning experiences.

The finishing touches on the dome will mark the completion of a multiyear capital improvement campaign at All Saints, which has seen significant renovations to the campus each summer for the past three years.

“It’s pretty incredible (to see),” Cobb said. “It’s also sparking our teachers. It’s energizing our teachers to be audacious dreamers.”

This year the school will see a record 655 students. Cobb said that while the capital campaign is wrapped up, they do plan to renovate some art classrooms and intermediate grade classrooms in the near future.

Cobb said throughout the project he’s held to an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

“We’ve done something unique,” he said. “We’ve gone fast and far.”

TWITTER: @TMT_Cory

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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