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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 charter school breaks ground on new building

Pikes Peak School of Expeditionary Learning, a D 49 charter school, recently started construction on their new building at Meridian and Antler Creek. Principal Don Knapp said, “We’re looking forward to having a building that’s meant to be a school.” PPSEL, in operation since 2001, is using Meridian Point Church as their temporary location. The new building will give teachers and students facilities they are now lacking, such as a gym, a school kitchen and child-sized bathrooms. “And a place that’s our own, to hang pictures, simple things like that,” said Knapp.PPSEL bases its curriculum on the expeditionary school model, which takes a hands-on approach to learning. Fieldwork is the basis of all learning, with in-depth studies of subjects and arts integrated into the curriculum. “We have a different method of teaching,” said Knapp. “We definitely go for depth over breadth. Students get a chance to really study a subject, to observe and wonder, rather than just being told.”PPSEL teaches preschool through eighth grade in small class sizes. “There’s a real sense of community here,” said teacher Dean Jaeger. “Everyone knows each other and looks out for each other.”The school’s future site has more than seven acres. “We’ll have room to set up a garden, observe the natural wetlands,” said Knapp.Architects Slater Paull designed the school; Colarelli Construction has started construction with an anticipated completion date of fall 2008.

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