Superintendent Brian Snider, choked up and seemed on the brink of tears Thursday during his introductory remarks to a standing room only crowd at the grand opening of the town’s new $15 million elementary school.
“I congratulate you,” Snider said, “for being part of the community that has brought this building into existence.”
Snider also noted that the pervasive odor of a newly surfaced gymnasium floor “smells like progress to me.”
In addition to parents, grandparents and other school patrons, school administrators, teachers and elected officials were present at the event, which featured an elementary school choir that sang as it performed synchronized arm and hand motions.
Many elementary students showed their parents around the news building, pointing out features and their lockers that have held their possessions since school started in September.
One youngster, who was too busy with his exploration to stop for conversation, laughed as he said, “This is fun. I like these lockers.”
Aime Arroyo, parent of a student at the school, said she like the looks of the building.
“It’s really beautiful,” she said.
The building, which is located on what was once the high school football practice field, consists of two stories. A gleaming white staircase leads from the ground floor to the upper story, when students in grades three, four and five are housed.
Pre-K, kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms are on the first floor.
Each floor of the school has access to a library and to an open concept teaching space as well as individual classrooms. Principal Betty Robinson spoke about how much the new building means to her and to the staff, pausing at least once as tears threatened to interrupt her.
After the speeches, Snider invited the guests on stage, some members of the audience, including several students, to come to the front of the cafeteria and join him as he cut the yellow ribbon as part of the time-honored and symbolic opening of a new building.
Attendees were then invited to the serving line in the cafeteria, where cafeteria personnel served ice cream and other refreshments.
The new elementary is just the first phase in an ongoing $45 million bond Jal voters approved in 2015. Other work is currently ongoing at the school including a remodel of the high school that will separate high school and junior high students, upgrades to the main gymnasium, football field and the construction of a new practice field, completed last year, as well as a future project to build a new swimming pool adjacent to the new elementary.