With a cheer of “hip, hip hooray” Thursday afternoon, a crowd of hundreds – including parents and students toting school supplies – celebrated East Allen County Schools' newest building, New Haven Intermediate School.
“We as a city should be extremely proud of what we have in this building, and I want it to be a center point of our community,” Principal Steve Snodgrass said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Third through sixth graders will begin classes at 919 Homestead Drive on Monday, the same day Southwest Allen County Schools families will – during a back-to-school night – get to see the expansion and renovations at Lafayette Meadows Elementary School.
“I can't wait for the kids,” Principal Jenny Fedele said during a Thursday morning media tour of Lafayette Meadows. “We're ready. We're ready to see their faces.”
SACS begins the school year Tuesday.
Construction at the Ernst Road school began June 2018. The $10 million project added a wing of 12 classrooms, two kindergarten rooms, an auxiliary gym and a courtyard that can be used as a multipurpose space. Other improvements included a cafeteria expansion and reconfiguration of the front office.
The new wing's fourth and fifth grade classrooms each feature a garage door, allowing teachers to create open and more collaborative learning environments.
“I do think it's unique to Allen County,” Fedele said, demonstrating how the overhead doors work.
While Lafayette Meadows students must wait to see the changes at their school, families streamed into New Haven Intermediate after Thursday's ribbon-cutting.
Nichole Solga and her daughter, sixth grader Avah Wolf, peeked at the cafeteria while searching for the office. It's exciting that Avah gets to attend a new school, Solga said. She added her son will benefit from the new and renovated spaces at New Haven Junior-Senior High School.
A ribbon-cutting for the 7-12 building is at 3:30 p.m. today.
EACS Superintendent Marilyn Hissong thanked everyone involved in the intermediate school project. The school board in 2017 approved a nearly $24 million bid to Fetters Construction.
“A project like this takes incredible teamwork,” Hissong said.
“You as a community were very patient during this construction project,” she added, acknowledging the dust and noise the work created.
The former intermediate school along Woodmere Drive will become a career and technical education center.
Former EACS Superintendent Ken Folks, now of the Indiana Department of Education, toured the school before the ceremony.
“It felt like home,” Folks said.
When EACS started the project, he said, district officials would talk about schools looking dated.
While the new intermediate school is beautiful, he said, what goes on within its walls is most important.
“It's about the curriculum,” Folks said. “It's about the instruction.
“It's about the genuine, caring relationships that have been a focus of the former New Haven Intermediate School and will continue to be part of the new New Haven Intermediate School,” he said.