The new North Star Elementary won’t open its doors to students until September, but families planning to enroll their children there got a chance to meet the school’s teachers and principal at a Thursday night meet and greet.

Many of the kids and parents seemed thrilled about the new school in north Bend.

“I think it’ll be good. New energy, new teachers, and everybody’s really excited about it,” said Kris Chandler, whose son Kingston will be going into third grade at North Star.

He’s currently at Ponderosa Elementary.

“I’m excited about mostly the new people there and the brand-new teachers,” said Kingston, 8.

At the busy event, held at Sky View Middle School, parents could register their kids for kindergarten, chat with North Star’s teachers and sign up to volunteer.

Their kids got free ice cream and played with iPad-controlled Sphero robots and LEGO robotics ­— two activities that will be offered at North Star.

Lisa Manresa, whose incoming third grader will transfer from High Lakes to North Star in the fall, is a LEGO robotics volunteer who plans on bringing the club to her child’s new school.

“High Lakes has a really good robotics program, and I wanted to make sure that other kids had an opportunity to experience what those kids had,” she said.

Principal Kevin Gehrig, who had a line of parents waiting to meet him throughout the evening, said he heard “nothing but positives” from those he spoke with.

North Star’s teachers listed various reasons why they decided to join the new school’s staff.

“I felt like the opportunity to start at a new school, to plan programming and to envision a mission for what’s best for kids sounded appealing,” said Erin Micken, a fourth-grade teacher coming from Bear Creek Elementary. “Also, Mr. Gehrig has a really good reputation, so to work with him seemed like a real treat.”

Allison Harris, a first-grade teacher who’s taught at Elk Meadow Elementary for 13 years, said she was ready for something different.

“It was time for me to have a new adventure in my journey of teaching,” she said.

Staff unveiled North Star’s nickname Thursday: the Navigators.

Gehrig said his team chose the name because explorers used the North Star to navigate, and the school’s new students will navigate their learning experience.

Some of the kids Thursday night were hard at work making paintings that will later be turned into a giant collage and hung in the school. The most dominant colors that students picked will become North Star’s official colors, Gehrig said.

North Star’s teachers will begin setting up their 24 classrooms in August. The $33.2 million, two-story school, at the intersection of O.B. Riley and Cooley roads in north Bend, will welcome 600 students in the fall.

Gehrig said he was pleased with the high turnout Thursday of future Navigators and their parents.

“It’s pretty exciting to see this number of families come out to see what North Star is all about, see the teachers, meet some of the other staff,” he said. “I hope that excitement will continue and we get to meet more parents as we get closer to opening in August.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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