Within the boundaries of the city of Frederick, the brand-new Butterfly Ridge Elementary School is situated in one of the fastest-growing areas in the county. The school will open its doors to teachers for classroom setup on Monday ahead of its first-ever first day of school in September.
The Butterfly Ridge Elementary community will be known as the Trail Blazers, and the school’s logo features its initials in front of a green and yellow mountain design. It’s a name chosen by Butterfly Ridge Elementary Principal Patty Hosfelt because “trailblazers are innovative, creative, and always learning and looking for new paths.”
Through the hallways of the new building, the same bright green color is seen on tiles lining either side and matching the school colors, which are also found in the new furniture.
Each desk, light and room has a well-thought-out purpose. Classrooms are complete with an interactive panel that can be adjusted and lowered for younger students. Swapping out traditional square desks, students’ desks are specially shaped to allow increased collaboration, according to Hosfelt. Classrooms have space for co-teaching, another way to help meet the needs of all students. Rooms are slanted to allow larger windows and more natural light. Overhead lights adjust automatically to the amount of light coming in through the windows, and lights can be dimmed as needed.
The gym is a high school-sized gym, complete with basketball hoops and quotes from John Quincy Adams, Helen Keller, and one unattributed quote that Hosfelt said she’s focused on for years: “Creative is not only a way to learn but a way to live.”
The school also has a creative movement room, similar to a dance studio. It will be a space for adaptive physical education and other offerings.
The building’s design will feel similar to that of North Frederick Elementary School, with some modifications as a Title I school, meaning it receives federal assistance and enrolls a high percentage of children from low-income families. Frederick County Public Schools staff hope the new school will relieve crowding at other elementary schools, and it will be home to students previously slated to attend Hillcrest, Orchard Grove and Waverley elementary schools.
Outside the school’s backdrop is a mountain range, and school grounds include a large courtyard. The school also has three separate playgrounds designed with equipment for different age groups — one for pre-K and kindergartners, one for first- and second-graders, and another for third- through fifth-graders.
With a one-to-three ratio of students to devices such as Chromebooks and iPads instead of a traditional computer lab, the school has “maker studios” for anything from robotics to engineering. There are also two art studios and two music instructors, as well as a stage in the cafeteria and a portable stage for larger assemblies that can be used in the gym.
“There traditionally were computer desktops in schools, but now we can use Chromebooks and laptops,” Hosfelt said. “Being innovative, now we put in these maker studios instead, giving students a chance to have studio time and create.”