LEWISTON — Workers are putting the finishing touches on the city’s newest school, Raymond A. Geiger Elementary, getting it ready for its opening on the first day of school on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

The new grades K-6 school at 601 College St. will house about 620 students. It replaces Pettingill Elementary School, and will also house some 200 students from Montello Elementary School, relieving overcrowding.

The new school “is a beautiful structure the community will be proud of,” Superintendent Leon Levesque said Tuesday. “The building is essentially complete. They’re setting up technology, the bell schedule, putting furniture in classrooms.”

Two playgrounds are being completed and a second coat of paving applied. People in the neighborhood are peeking in windows, “anxious to see it,” Levesque said.

A series of open houses will be held so people can see the new building, he said.

An open house for parents and students only will be held on Aug. 20. One for the public will be held Sept. 12; and a formal dedication paying homage to its namesake, Geiger founder Raymond A. Geiger, will be held on Sept. 16.

A new school is an important community event, Levesque said. “We want to share this beautiful facility and make people aware of it.”

The open house for parents and students will be an orientation. Since the school will hold students and staff from two schools, some of the faculty will be different.

At the open house, parents and students can meet teachers, learn about the procedures for dropping off students, and find out where the classrooms, cafeteria and gym are located.

“We want to ensure that opening day of school is exciting but not one of anxiety for students and teachers,” Levesque said.

In addition to the building being new and stylish, people will notice how much bigger it is than Pettingill.

“The site at Pettingill was 3 acres, if that. This site is 24 acres,” Levesque said. It will have one playground for younger students, another for those in upper grades.

The old school was small and on one floor. The new one comprises 93,000 square feet on two floors, and has a separate wing with a stage, cafeteria and gym. Classrooms are organized by grade-level “pods,” Levesque said. For example, the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms are near each other to promote sharing and teaming.

At Pettingill, student services such as speech and occupational therapy were conducted in tiny rooms or hallways. Music and art materials were wheeled into classes. The new school has an art classroom, a music classroom and space for student services.

It also has an energy-efficient design, built to the path of the sun to maximize the amount of natural daylight that will shine in classes, Levesque said. That not only saves energy, but natural daylight is more comfortable than artificial lighting, he said.

The exterior incorporates a classical red-brick-school look. The interior has a lot of what Levesque calls “warm details,” wood trim on lights rather than metal and color patterns that create interest.

“We want students to think, ‘Wow, this is an exciting place to be,’ not a bland building,” he said.

The state covered 96.5 percent of the $22 million school. The total cost included a $120,000 grant to make the building energy-efficient, Levesque said.

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Raymond A. Geiger Elementary School in Lewiston will open on the first day of school, Wednesday, Aug. 26.

On the Web:

For more information on Raymond A. Geiger Elementary School, go to http://www.lewistonpublicschools.org/~geigerweb/ 

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