2018—Donny O’Dell Elementary School

Celina ISD—Donny O’Dell Elementary School
Architect: Claycomb Associates, Architects

For a community that has doubled in population since 2008 and is still growing, increased student enrollment in this District is certain. This 89,990 square foot prototype new elementary with capacity for 750 students will allow the District to keep up with an increasing student population, and the consolidated footprint will easily translate to future sites.


Adapting classroom configurations based on changing student enrollment was key for the District, so a compact, 2-story plan arranged around a central courtyard was selected. Splitting the media center square footage between both floors minimizes the building footprint and increases student access to this central collaboration space. The design ensures that all classrooms have natural light, and student circulation is safe, intuitive, and efficient.


This project came in $300,000 under budget and includes long-lasting, durable finishes. The prototype design will save time and money for the life of the design as well as ensure educational equity for the future. Enrollment triggers dictate when additional campuses come online, eliminating over reliance on expensive portables. Innovative ideas, such as a 2-sided stage and the 2-story media center provide flexibility for teachers and encourages different learning opportunities for students.


The stacked, compact plan lessens site impact and maximizes outdoor space. The central learning courtyard includes tiered seating with shade canopies for outdoor instruction as well as irrigated raised planters for hands-on activities. A light colored, solar-compatible roof, high efficiency LED lighting, and natural daylighting enhance energy savings. No-wax flooring and ceramic tiled walls require little to no maintenance, improve indoor air quality, and enhance student wellness.


For many fast growth districts like this one, maintaining community identity is challenging. To ensure that new residents felt connected to the District, this campus is sited in the heart of a master planned development. Homes face the new campus on almost all sides, providing a visual reminder that home and school make a community. The compact plan freed up green space around the school, allowing the site to also function like a neighborhood park.


Planning for this campus centered on 1 goal: flexibility. The District wanted a design that could adapt to a variety of site conditions. Rather than classroom wings, they wanted classroom groups that could adapt to enrollment bubbles. Designers met with campus and District administrators, gathering input and discussing how to achieve a 21st century learning environment. After collaborating on different options, the current design emerged as the best solution.

School Transformation

This prototype gives students a high-tech, high-touch learning environment that aligns with the District’s strategic plan. Core spaces sized for growth host not only students but also community groups. Ample natural light, a shaded central courtyard, and mobile furnishings promote learning and exploration inside, outside, and around the building. This campus relieves overcrowding at the existing elementary, improving the learning environment for every PreK – 5th grade student in the District.

Stars of Distinction Star of Distinction Category Winner