New state-of-the-art Audubon Park School welcomes students

ORLANDO, Fla. – Thousands of students in Orange County headed back to school in brand-new facilities this school year.

The new Audubon Park School is one of 11 schools either built new or renovated thanks to the half-penny sales tax. Audubon Park School was built as a relief school for Baldwin Park Elementary and Glenridge Middle School.
The three-story, state-of-the-art facility can accommodate roughly 1,200 students. Principal Trevor Honohan said this is a homecoming of sorts. He was the principal of the original Audubon Park Elementary. Honohan welcomed students, families and community members in a pep rally on the first day of school.
"A gym for an elementary school student is a unique experience, so they got to come down on the floor and play some games and just get the feeling of what it's like to be a middle school student playing basketball in the gym," he said.
Honohan adds that the kindergarten through eighth grade model offers unique opportunities, both academically and otherwise.
"Eighth-graders might come down to the kindergarten classroom and read stories and just help out and be positive role models for the youngers," Honohan said. "A lot of times, the male students can really be a positive influence on some of the boys in kindergarten and first grade who might need a role model that's positive."
The school focuses on technology.  All middle school students received laptops. For the elementary grades, students bring their own devices. Collaboration spaces throughout campus allow students to problem-solve in groups. 
The school opened one year later than originally planned. Orange County School Board member Nancy Robbinson explained there were environmental issues with the soil that caused a construction delay. She said community members were understanding and are excited about the school.
"We had old students who had been student here 50 years ago," Robinson said. "We had one woman who actually brought in some minutes from a PTA meeting and she said she has some old T-shirts she's going to donate, as well."
The Audubon Park Garden District is already embracing the school, Honohan said. He tells News 6 Fleet Farming is putting in gardens.
"We're going to take that from seed all the way to harvest at the East End Market," Honohan said. "Our students will get the experience of selling the crops and taking care of it from point A to point Z."
Honohan encourages parents zoned for Audubon Park School who send their children elsewhere, to check out the new school.
"This is going to be a top-notch experience. We're going to be leaders of innovation. If you live in this community and you are not part of this school, I think at some point, you're going to feel left out, not just from what goes during the day and bell to bell, but from the after school experiences and the communities that are pushing in and us involving ourselves along Corrine Drive with the small businesses. If you live here and have the opportunity to come to this school you certainly ought to consider it," Honohan said.

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