Corey Brandt, director of facilities, knocks on my door and delivers the disc with a calculated level of exaggerated pomp. He’s being theatrical because I’ve been pestering him lately about the pictures.
Thanks to the miracle of technology, the small piece of plastic holds hundreds of images snapped by Bukacek Construction over the last 10 months. Much like their job site, the contents are organized, fanatically so, with each component given its own individual folder. Carpentry. Masonry. Mechanical. Plumbing. Everything is here. And while there are 11 folders in all, my eye is instantly drawn to one.
Any lover of words will tell you there’s this little burst of literary glee that takes place when coming across a word you’ve never noticed before. Nerdy? Absolutely. But hey, we are who we are.
Earthwork. It’s not hard to pronounce. Nor is it hard to guess what it means, even without the assistance of Google. Before opening the folder, I know I will see the construction process of the Leipold Johnson Early Childhood Center, the newest addition to Prairie’s campus, in its infancy. Before beams are welded and windows put in place, things are measured. Holes are dug. Soil is pushed. A foundation is started.
Knowing how far the Leipold Johnson Early Childhood Center has come in just 10 months — the building is nearly complete — it feels like the right time to reflect on watching its creation up close and personal. Maybe it’s my overly sentimental and symbolic writer’s brain at work, but it’s impossible not to reflect on where the world was when construction began on June 23, 2020.
Think back to America last June. A scary, riotous time. A new and relentless pandemic. Politicians spitting vile, absurd rhetoric in the way only politicians can spit such things. America was experiencing upheaval. Our nation needed its own long overdue earthwork.
This isn’t to suggest what has happened between now and then has poured a new foundation in this country. America, as beautiful and brilliant as it is, has also been notoriously poor at learning from its past mistakes. However, during times of turmoil, we also know there will be people and places to count on, institutions committed to lifting people up. To making people think. To challenging the status quo.
Prairie is such a place.
Over the past year, this school has done good, impactful work. During one of the scarier times we’ll ever face, this community rallied together, crafted a plan, and opened its doors for our students and families. Those doors have stayed open since August.
And during that time, a beautiful new building grew up out of the ground. Out of the earthwork. A building where Prairie’s youngest learners will come to understand the importance of playing nice with one another. The importance of devising peaceful solutions. The importance of being a kind, caring friend.
A building where strong, lifelong foundations will begin.
Preschool at Prairie
A few years ago, Prairie overhauled its preschool pricing structure to make the program cost more on par with other daycares in the area.
Starting at age 3, children can experience Prairie’s Master Teachers, differentiated learning plans, small class sizes, and hands-on lessons like foreign language, robotics, computers, music and “Handwriting Without Tears” — all in the beautiful new Leipold Johnson Early Childhood Center.
Families interested in learning more are invited to register for an Early School or Kindergarten Discovery Day from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 24, or from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15.
Required as part of the application process, Discovery Day affords your child a chance to be assessed for readiness. One parent per student is required to stay on campus for an important informational session during which they can ask any questions they might have. Register online at prairieschool.com/discovery-day or by calling 262-752-2525.