The collection of aging portable buildings are already gone from the campus of the old O'Connor School site, and crews have started the work that comes before they can demolish the aging school building.
By fall 2016, a brand new, two-story Upper Laurel School is due to open its doors to its first students.
On Thursday, May 21, the Menlo Park City School District held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new third- to fifth-grade school.
"I know it's going to be on time and I know it's going to be under budget and I know it's going to exceed expectations," said Superintendent Maurice Ghysels of the new school.
The new school, at 275 Elliott Drive in the Willows neighborhood of Menlo Park, will enroll students in the attendance area of the district's K-3 Laurel School at 95 Edge Road in Atherton.
Neighbors of the new school and current Laurel students, teachers and parents joined district officials and the construction team for the event.
Shu Rosenthal, who lives just three houses away from the campus, and whose 7- and 9-year-olds will attend the new Upper Laurel, said the beginning of construction is "very exciting."
"I love Laurel School," Ms. Rosenthal said. "I am very excited to see how the new campus is going to bring our community together."
Ahmad Sheikholeslami, the district's chief business and operations officer who has been overseeing the project, said he hopes everyone will "be back here in a little over a year when we cut the ribbon and open the new school."
Linda Creighton, who is the principal of Laurel School and will head both Laurel campuses when the new school opens, thanked the community, which passed a $23 million bond measure in 2013 to finance construction of the new school. "This is very exciting," she said.
The new school will "finally begin to relieve pressure at all our elementary sites," Ms. Creighton said. "We got rid of portables once; and we're going to get rid of portables forever," she said.
The Elliot Drive site and school building had been occupied for 20 years by the German-American International School, which leased the campus from the school district. The private school moved earlier this month to its new home at 475 Pope St., the site of the former Menlo Oaks School, which is only a half-mile from the Elliott Drive campus.
Once the speeches were over, school board members and Superintendent Ghysels donned hard hats and posed with shovels of tan bark, which was standing in for actual ground. Students and teachers then took their turns, followed by the construction team.
And then everyone dug into the refreshments provided by Cafe Zoe of Willows neighborhood fame, the folding chairs were stowed away and the crew working on readying the site for construction got ready to go back to work. September 2016 is not that far away.