A Little Background
Hazelwood Elementary School first opened in 1963; along with Sierra Heights, Highlands, Maplewood Heights and Kennydale, it serves the Hazen High School service area. Children attending Hazelwood go on to Risdon Middle School and Hazen High School. In 2005 we had the pleasure of opening a brand new school located one block south of the old Hazelwood.
Hazelwood Elementary was named for the bountiful hazelnut orchards that covered the hillsides surrounding the original site. The first Hazelwood was a tiny, in-home school, which later gave way to a two-room building. That school became part of Kennydale School District, which was organized in 1904. When enrollment decreased at Hazelwood, the old school was closed and the children were transported to Kennydale by a horse and wagon. After Hazelwood School closed, the building was taken over by the Hazelwood Community Club. At a later date, part of the land was sold to the fire district, which built a fire station on the site. The community club later purchased the remaining property along with the old school building. Since that time it has been used as a community center.
In 1963, a replacement Hazelwood Elementary School was constructed at a total cost of $723,243 about a quarter mile east of the old site, at the intersection of 116th Avenue SE and SE 68th Street. During the early and mid-1960's more than 900 students crowded into the bulging school and nine portables.
Additions were added to that building in 1967, at a cost of $462,878, and also in 1970 at a cost of $74,714. This brought the facility to a total area of 53,072 square feet. The 10-acre site was originally located as a part of unincorporated King County, however in 1995, by a vote of the area residents in favor of incorporation, became the City of Newcastle.
Hazelwood was honored by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 1992. Staff, parents, and students spent the better part of a year preparing information and participating in on-site visits by representatives of the U.S. Department of Education. Representatives of the school district attended the awards ceremony at the White House in 1993. The delegation consisted of Vera Risdon, former principal and then assistant superintendent for instruction; Marsha Hallett, principal; and Diane Rogers and Linda DeCample, teachers. The awards program was nearly eliminated through federal legislative budget action just as Hazelwood was nominated. The entire student body and community united to protest the action and the program was reinstated.
In May 2003, the Renton School District voters passed a Capital Improvement Bond, which included the replacement of the remaining older elementary schools. The design for a "new" Hazelwood Elementary School was begun with input from community, parents and staff. The new building was located directly south and adjacent to the 1963 building, on a portion of the remaining 26 acre site. Construction was begun in July 2004, and the 60,101 total square foot building was completed in August 2005. The project, including site development and the building, were constructed and furnished at a cost of $12.5 million.
Over the years hundreds of Hazelwood parents have been active volunteers in the school. In the past as the present the school remains the 'center of the community.'