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A Spanish worker cleans the new rubberized playground at David Glasgow Farragut Elementary School.
A Spanish worker cleans the new rubberized playground at David Glasgow Farragut Elementary School. (Scott Schonauer / S&S)
A Spanish worker cleans the new rubberized playground at David Glasgow Farragut Elementary School.
A Spanish worker cleans the new rubberized playground at David Glasgow Farragut Elementary School. (Scott Schonauer / S&S)
A first-grade teacher prepares a bulletin board for the first day of school.
A first-grade teacher prepares a bulletin board for the first day of school. (Scott Schonauer / S&S)

NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — The “media center” — what older people might call a library — has more than two-dozen computers to compliment the hundreds of neatly stacked books.

Carpeted classrooms are wired for Internet and have wall-mounted satellite TVs. And rubberized playgrounds — when they are finished — will make recess both fun and safe.

No, this is not your mother’s elementary school.

While students across Europe start this school year with new teachers and maybe some new books, elementary students in Rota are beginning classes in a new, $16.5 million school. The campus is likely to wow many parents who grew up on chalk blackboards and ditto paper.

“It’s beautiful,” Principal Gary Edsall said, sitting in a considerably larger office than his old one. “The kids are really excited. The community is really excited.”

The teachers are thrilled, too.

Getting ready for the upcoming school year in addition to moving into a new building has meant some long hours for teachers and administrators. But teachers are eager for the first school bell to ring at the improved David Glasgow Farragut Elementary School.

“It’s like double-work this year,” first-grade teacher Connie Thompson said. “But it’s really motivating. We’re waking up early just anxious to get here.”

Teacher Beth Peris said the rooms are state-of-the art and better than the old school in just about every aspect.

“If you look at what we had and what we have now, you can’t compare,” Peris said.

The old school was a network of buildings that served as wings for kindergarten through sixth grade. There were no hallways, only canopied sidewalks connecting the buildings to the gym and the cafeteria. The 45-year-old school had wiring and plumbing problems and several classrooms caught on fire two years ago. Plus, first-graders had to share the bathrooms with the high school students.

The new two-story school, which will greet about 500 students this year, puts the old school to shame.

Rays of sunlight peaking through a line of windows at the top of the tall ceilings illuminate the wide hallways. All 22 classrooms have at least four Internet hook-ups, and each has a TV, a sink and a wall full of extra storage space. Outside the classrooms, there is a locker for each student.

The gym has a regulation-sized basketball court and offices for the physical education instructors

“And it’s only for the elementary,” Edsall said, beaming.

Although the school is ready for students, constructions workers are putting the finishing touches on the project.

Teachers are working 12- to 13-hour days every day to make sure they’re ready for classes.

“They’re tired,” Edsall said. “But they will have it ready.”

Rear Adm. Stanley Bozin, commander of Navy Region Europe, will join students, teachers, parents and Spanish Navy guests to celebrate the first day of school and the opening of the new campus Tuesday.

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