Christine Grant Elementary opens its doors to students in North Liberty

Named for UI women’s athletic director Christine Grant, ICCSD’s new elementary school is home to 500 students in North Liberty.

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Christine Grant Elementary opens its doors to students in North Liberty

Christine Grant Elementary is seen on Thursday, August 29, 2019. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Christine Grant Elementary is seen on Thursday, August 29, 2019. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Katina Zentz

Christine Grant Elementary is seen on Thursday, August 29, 2019. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Christine Grant Elementary is seen on Thursday, August 29, 2019. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

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The Iowa City Community School District’s newest elementary school pays homage to the University of Iowa’s legendary Women’s Athletic Director Christine Grant — and district officials say they are excited to begin the academic year in her namesake building. 

Christine Grant Elementary School, located in North Liberty, opened its doors to students for the first time Aug. 23. Five-hundred students are currently enrolled for school in the $18.5 million building, which has the capacity to hold up to 625 students.

Principal Ken Turnis said 95 percent of the students studying at Christine Grant Elementary come from Penn and Garner Elementary Schools, which had become overcrowded. He added that overall, the transition of students and staff to the new school has been smooth. 

“It may have been the smoothest first day of school I’ve ever been a part of, which is pretty remarkable for a new school,” Turnis said. “Much of that credit goes to not only our staff, but … to our community, our families and their support, being flexible, and working through all those procedural impacts those first few days.”

While traffic patterns in the first few weeks of school can take a while to acclimate to, the school is easily accessible on foot or by bicycle. Iowa City School District Facilities Director Duane Van Hemert said adjusting traffic patterns can be a learning curve. 

“The first couple days of school, there’s heavy traffic. It’s a learning process for the district, the school principal and the parents. They’re working on a few bugs,” Van Hemert said. “There’s a lot of people who drove their kids to school. There’s a lot of students who are able to walk — we prefer they walk or ride their bike from the neighborhoods that are nearby.”

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Turnis said the school district added new bike racks to accommodate the number of cyclists.

“We’ve had many, many parents along with the kiddos who are walking or riding bikes themselves,” he said. “The mornings are a lot of fun, not only getting to talk to the kids, [but also] their parents who are coming.”

Meghan Meyer, an Iowa City School District teacher of 12 years, is teaching kindergarten at Christine Grant Elementary. She said the school’s opening has been exciting, even with challenges such as the playground not being open for the first few days. 

“It has been awesome. We have some obstacles that come with opening a new school, but everyone’s been so excited. The families have been so excited,” she said. “We have a really great feel, and everyone’s excited to get the school year started.” 

Meyer, whose children attend Christine Grant Elementary, said the student-focused culture that Turnis and other administrators have promoted is one of the best things about the school. 

“That has been really exciting as a teacher, but also as a parent, knowing the emphasis is on the student at Grant and knowing that they’re our priority,” Meyer said. 

The school’s eponym Christine Grant had the opportunity to tour the new facility and speak with staff members. Grant served as the UI Women’s Athletic Director from 1973 to 2000. Turnis said Grant’s vision as a director and an educator is a guiding value for the school.

“[Grant spoke] about educators and their impact, the positive impact they have on students, [and] on the world,” Turnis said of Grant’s visit to her namesake school. “A lot of what we’re doing is focusing on the values she had relative to fairness, equality, being kind to one another. That’s going to make up a lot of our core vision.”

RELATED: Mann and Lincoln elementary schools introduce renovated facilities 

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