Northwest News

New Olympia school to open for public tours, dedication

South Sound’s newest school building, the Olympia Regional Learning Academy, will open its doors to the public from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday for tours and a dedication ceremony.

“(It’s) primarily to thank the community because they funded this school in the 2012 bond, and we wanted them to see what they helped us do for students,” Olympia School District spokeswoman Rebecca Japhet said.

A regular meeting of the Olympia School Board will follow the dedication ceremony, at about 6:30 p.m., at ORLA.

The open house event will include self-guided tours highlighting many features of the 69,000-square-foot facility at 2400 15th Ave. SE (along Boulevard Road), Olympia, including:

• State-of-the-art science laboratories.

• An online development center that, when complete, will allow students to take virtual field trip around the world.

• A cooking classroom.

• The building’s gym, outdoor playground and covered playground which are available for public use.

• A multi-purpose room that can serve as a dining area and a performance venue.

• Indoor and outdoor classrooms.

Founded in 2006, ORLA offers a variety of services including a Montessori program for children in preschool through sixth grade, hConnect for homeschool families and the online iConnect Academy.

Its $20 million “net zero” structure was designed to draw less energy from the grid that it’s able to produce on site, thanks to geothermal heating, skylights and other environmentally friendly features. Since the school caters to homeschool families, it also features a nursery and gathering areas for families.

“The building feels like it fits ORLA and all of the programs we have,” school administrator Joy Walton Kawasaki said when students and staff moved into the facility in February.