Tomahawk Elementary students had a number of shiny new features awaiting them when they arrived for their first day of the 2016-17 school year Friday.
New LED lights brightened the halls on the ceilings where a sprinkler system had been installed as well. The dingy carpet that had covered the gym was gone, replaced with a bright laminate flooring more suitable for athletics. And, perhaps most notably, the school now has its first-ever full-scale commercial kitchen, meaning food workers can prepare student meals on site instead of having them shipped in.
Tomahawk is the beneficiary of a move away from “satellite” kitchens toward on-site meal preparation, said the head of district food operations, Nancy Coughenour.
“We want to have it so kids can smell the food cooking and see the food being prepared, just like at home,” Coughenour said. “Kids eat with their eyes, too.”
The new kitchen is a welcome change at Tomahawk, which is seeing significant growth. Principal Brian Watson said enrollment jumped nearly 10 percent to approximately 300 students this year, a sign of neighborhood regreening.
“We added a third kindergarten this year because of the increased enrollment,” he said.