Last week architects from ECI, the firm working on the design for new Ayaprun Elitnaurvik building, presented their plans to the Lower Kuskokwim School District Board and to parents and staff. KYUK’s Education reporter Christine Trudeau met up with Ayaprun Principal Zachary Bastoky at the school’s current location in the Kipusvik Center across from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. Bastoky also mentioned that the architects took sound recordings of the students' dance performances last week to inform their choice of materials for the walls of the new building to ensure proper acoustics.
Zachary Bastoky: Last Thursday we had a public meeting, and there was a lot of opportunity for the architects to present the floor plans, as well as a lot of opportunity for questions and answers that the architects were able to answer that the parents or staff members had. And the architects are really taking to heart for what the community members – for their input and feedback.
Christine Trudeau: What has some of the most recent feedback been with this presentation?
Bastoky: A lot of the feedback wanted to make sure that the school was truly meeting the needs of the Ayaprun School. For example, the school is based around the qasgiq, which is a large meeting area in which the students can participate in their morning meetings, Yuraq, which is the Yup’ik dancing, and also enough room for all our monthly assemblies where students can perform with their classes and parents can also attend. And make sure the space is big enough for community events. The questions also revolved around making sure there was going to be enough flow for drop-on/drop-off, especially with the buses, and making sure that there was going to be enough space for all the classes, and making sure the students had a building that had the heart of what Ayaprun Elitnaurvik is all about.
Trudeau: You mentioned flow, and there had been some concern about how traffic is going to move because the new school site is actually going to next to Bethel Regional High School and Mikelnguut Elitnaurviat and then Gladys Jung will all be over there. So what have the architects kind of presented to you as part of their plan for that kind of traffic control flow?
Bastoky: Sure. The architects are really working hard to make sure that they are going to be having the most fluid and least congested plan. I know the architects are working with the City of Bethel, the District. They’re taking a lot of feedback from the public, and they’re working really hard to go back and look into the designs and take the new input to make sure that there is going to be enough flow and less congestion.
Trudeau: What are the tentative dates right now for the completion of the new school?
Bastoky: So I know the tentative date for completion would be an open date of January 2021. So it’d be about a three-year timeline.
Trudeau: What are you most excited about in some of the design for this new building?
Bastoky: I’m really most excited about the qasgiq model and the shape of the school. It’s kind of almost like a V shape or a fish shape, where the middle of the school really incorporates a large meeting area for the students. And then they have mini qasgiqs, which is designed for performances and meetings for the K-2 students [kindergarten through second grade], and the students in grades three through six at either end of the hall. I know everybody is excited about having a shared gym with KLA [Kuskokwim Learning Academy]. So I know that’s really exciting for the students to have Physical Education again and be able to use the gym. And I’m very excited for the classes to be self-contained. Right now we’re making great use of the building, but I know noise has been a factor with the open school concept, so it’ll be nice to have self-enclosed classrooms. It’ll also be nice to be with the other school for a true partnership, being located right next to them.
Trudeau: Well, thank you so much.
Bastoky: Thank you.