D49 Welcomes SY 18-19 with Ribbon-Cutting Ceremonies
Three major projects at School District 49 are ready for the start of school year 2018-2019. To mark these milestones D49 hosted three ribbon-cutting ceremonies on three different days, a week ahead of the first day of school.
The Past Meets the Future
“It has been exciting to see our teachers getting their classrooms set up and the level of enthusiasm for the start of this new school year,” said Bennett Ranch Elementary School Principal Mandy Maranville, during the first ceremony at BRES Monday, July 23.
BRES welcomed about 100 people to the ceremony ahead of opening the doors for tours of the first brand new D49 neighborhood school built in a decade. The new school is a product of funds generated by the 3B mill levy override approved by voters in fall 2016.
“We hope you see in this facility and the others we continue to improve and to build with those funds that we are truly standing by what we promised to give to our students,” said D49 Board of Education President Marie La Vere-Wright. “[Building] the best facilities we can for them to do the learning they need, because they are truly our future.”
BRES stands on land originally part of the Hugh Bennett Ranch purchased by the Bennetts in the late 1930s. The Bennett family sold parts of their ranch over the years making way for three D49 schools in the Falcon Zone - Falcon High School, Falcon Middle School, and now BRES.
“Josie and Hugh Bennett were advocates of kids getting a good education,” explained Missy Meitro, one of the Bennett family members who attended the ceremony.
“Hugh and Josie would be proud to know that the land he purchased in the 1930s is being used to help educate future generations,” she added. “We are all happy to see their legacy continue.”
The new school will welcome just under 500 students on the first day of class August 2. Executive Principal Brian Smith described BRES as cutting-edge. “We will provide students with real world, modern, learning experiences where teachers will facilitate authentic and creative learning leveraged by technology,” Smith said. The school will also feature artifacts gathered through the decades from the Bennett Ranch to give students a sense of what the land held before BRES.
“We are proud today to honor the Hugh Bennett Ranch as we open this brand new elementary school and help preserve the legacy in this part of Falcon,” Smith said.
A New Space for Learners
Two days after the official ribbon-cutting at BRES, another group met to welcome the new ALLIES learning center to the D49 portfolio of schools. The Academy for Literacy, Learning & Innovation Excellence is a tuition-free school for students grades 2 - 5 who need to overcome language-based learning difficulties like dyslexia.
“We are going to do things a little differently,” said Rebecca Thompson, director of academic services for ALLIES as she recalled conversations she had with parents who were interested in the school. “Their students came to us, and their students have flourished. We are so proud they came and found us here at ALLIES.”
The new addition shares space with Odyssey Elementary School featuring a dedicated ALLIES entrance and office, six small group therapy rooms for Take Flight intervention instruction, in addition to seven larger classrooms for ALLIES learners.
“I’m truly proud, as board president, to make sure we are truly serving every student including the 20% in our community that fit the dyslexia profile,” said La Vere-Wright. The BOE president pointed out despite the challenges associated with learners who attend ALLIES, many are gifted innovators and creators. “I’m proud of our other elementary schools that are helping to identify those kids and have a conversation with their families, so they can see the strengths in those children as well.”
“I look forward to supporting hundreds of students to come in the future. Students that will come and find us in our little corner of the world,” Thompson said.
Expanding the Vision
When students begin the school year at Falcon High School, their school will have grown a new wing. FHS hosted the third and final ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, July 27 to celebrate the opening of a brand new, permanent addition to the north end of the school.
The ceremony took place inside the new academic wing as rain fell steadily outside Friday afternoon.
“Our ROTC was very excited because the colorguard [would have] to practice in the rain on a day like today,” said FHS Principal Cheryl Goodyear-DeGeorge. “We’re very excited their flags do not hit the ceiling,” she chuckled, commenting on the vaulted ceiling in the room where the ceremony took place.
The academic wing, built by contractor GE Johnson and designed by DLR Architects, includes space for career and technical education, computer labs, multipurpose classrooms and a student gathering area.
Goodyear-DeGeorge pointed out one of the classrooms in particular where students will get hands-on experience learning EMT skills in a simulated ambulance. “It looks like a really small space in there,” she said. “It’s intentionally small, so they get used to using that space.”
Guest speaker, and FHS senior Noah Gray, noted the ribbon-cutting fell exactly nine months from the day District 49 broke ground on the project. “This new building is a prime example of what I like to call ‘goaling,’ not dreaming,” Gray said.
He described the new learning space as adaptive to meet the needs of a new generation of learners. La Vere-Wright echoed Noah’s remarks explaining the planners took feedback from community members who desired more career-preparation based coursework for their students.
“All of our students can follow their dreams and follow their path [to success]” La Vere-Wright said. “This [space] is going to give them the career opportunities and choices that may, or may not, include a post secondary education.”
With a third, and final cut of a Falcon-green ribbon, a new season of learning is set to begin at D49.