For Bree Paiva, a sophomore at Pierce College, tearing down Sunrise Elementary may tear down her bad memories. Paiva remembers her time at elementary school as the worst “six long years” of her life. She experienced severe bullying, ostracization and segregation.
“All the bad ghosts will be gone,” Paiva said on Sunrise being torn down and rebuilt. Sunrise Elementary, a school four blocks from Pierce College containing about 500 elementary students, is due for a rebuild. The design team hopes to make it one of the biggest elementary schools in the state and anticipates a capacity of 750 students. The new school is scheduled to open in September 2019.
“It had been 12 years since we had passed a bond,” said Mario Casello to KING 5 News. “With the growth that is hitting Puyallup now, it couldn’t have been more important.” Casello, chief operations officer for the Puyallup School District, hopes the new elementary school will accommodate for the rise in population in the Puyallup area.
With the remodel in the foreseeable future, ex-Sunrise elementary student Paiva wants the school library to stay the same.
“It’s the biggest library of all the schools I’ve been to besides Pierce,” Paiva said. “I regret not liking to read back then.”
Paiva also hopes they move the music room inside, as she remembers walking outside in the cold to the music room.
“It was the safe place,” Paiva said about music at Sunrise, which was one of the positive memories she took with her from the school.
Coralie Gustafson was the music teacher—Paiva’s favorite. Paiva referred to her as Mrs. G, all the elementary school kids had a hard time pronouncing her name.
Pierce Student Mariah Josten was another Sunrise student. Her favorite teacher was Mike Holten, her fifth grade teacher. Josten doesn’t have many defining memories of Sunrise, other than the good teachers she had.
Josten also remembers, due to the overpopulation of students, she was put with kids that weren’t her grade.
The school is set up in three clusters. Two grades fit in each but one year Josten was put with kids from different grades.
“Sometimes there just wasn’t enough room for all the grades, so that makes it really hard,” Josten said.
Currently, the entire sixth grade class of Sunrise is planted at Ferucci Junior High. Since the elementary is so small and there is an abundance of students, they can’t provide the space for them.
The exterior of the elementary is laden with worn brick. Josten and Paiva call the school ‘ancient.’
Outside, there is a large field, one major playground and another small playground that is stripped of toys. By the small playground was Paiva’s hiding spot: inside a tire, which was recently removed.
The walls outside of Sunrise weren’t just for the kids to play wall ball, Paiva remembers teachers and staff making the kids sit on the wall whenever they got in trouble.
After how badly Paiva was bullied at Sunrise, getting rocks thrown at her and receiving death threats, she is relieved to know Sunrise is going to be rebuilt into something fresh and new. It won’t erase those memories but it potentially will make it easier for her to move on.
Paiva hopes students won’t be treated the same way.
“I’m small, I have a speech impediment, I wasn’t rich.” Paiva said. “I was different.”
According to Paiva, Sunrise teacher have been talking about rebuilding the aged elementary since she was in fourth grade. Sunrise, along with Paiva’s soiled memories, will be demolished and rebuilt in September 2019.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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