The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education has been using the newly-constructed Joshua Tree Elementary School for its recent meetings. Dan Stork records his first impressions of the building…

On the façade of the now-abandoned old Joshua Tree Elementary School on Sunburst in Joshua Tree is a large hand-lettered banner. It says “New School,” accompanied by a line of arrows pointing northward. Follow the road about a mile and a quarter, up a rise, past a ridge line, and down into a bowl surrounded by hills. On your left is the new school. Park in the east lot, and enter the double entrance doors below the large letters spelling out “Administration.” To the right, a large reception and office area. To the left, a brightly lit library. Pass through another set of double doors into a broad corridor. It’s lined with classrooms and meeting rooms, their walls lined with computer screens. The door of a room labeled IT is open, the hum of fans cooling a rack of servers spilling into the hall. More classroom-lined corridors branch off to the left. At the end of the main hall, enter the Multi-purpose room, complete with raised stage. The building and spacious grounds are quiet now, but will spring to life Monday morning, when the 2013-2014 school year starts in the Morongo Basin. You can feel the expectations in the walls.

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