Archived Story

Ground broken for new Cass school

Published 9:15pm Thursday, June 10, 2010

Niles Daily Star

CASSOPOLIS – Leave it to an elementary school student to tell it like it is.

Amelia Ayers, a fourth-grader, was one of the featured speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday for the new K-6 Sam Adams Elementary School, which should be complete by August 2011.

“We need a lot of new things, like ceilings that don’t leak and it will be great to have new, clean bathrooms where all the sinks work,” Ayers said before a crowd of her peers, teachers and community members.

The renovation of Sam Adams is the result of a $16 million bond that passed in February.

The new building will house 700 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“I am going to be proud of our new school,” Ayers said. “I am happy that our town decided to have something modern in it.”

It took a while for Cassopolis to make the decision. It was the third bond proposal in recent years to update schools that are all 40 to 50 years old. The two previous proposals were in May and November 2007 and both failed decisively.

Scott Ward, a school board member that spearheaded the Ranger Pride project that encouraged residents to vote for the bond, also spoke at the ceremony.

“These students, they are the future of our community,” he said. “They are the ones we need to entice back to the community.”

Ward also thanked the many volunteers that spent “countless hours on the phone and in the community” to make sure the bond passed.

Tony Habra, principal of Cassopolis High School and the president of the Cassopolis/Vandalia Chamber of Commerce, said the new building will be a boost to business in the community.

“Business is what keeps this community together,” he said. “I am excited about the new school. It will mean more educated people here.”

Superintendent Greg Weatherspoon wore a big smile throughout the ceremony.

“We expect you to soar to the clouds with this new building,” Weatherspoon said to the students. “This is going to be a world class environment. But you have to help make it that way.”

At the end of the ceremony, students from each grade level got to turn over some dirt with a shovel to mark the beginning of the project.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were Village President Clare Mallo, representatives from Skanska construction company, architect Scott Winchester and members of the board of education.

The construction will include the addition of two new wings – one for kindergarten and first grade classrooms and another two-story wing for second through sixth grade classrooms.

The project also will mean new learning technology, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, safety equipment and playgrounds for the students.

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