Projects at Beeson Elementary are wrapping up and occupancy is expected on Tuesday.
Since the $85.6 million bond issue passed in June, the community has witnessed multiple construction projects blossom into functional storm protected areas for the USD 443 schools. Beeson Elementary is next on the list of completed projects, and principal Kelly Bolin couldn’t be more excited.
“I’m excited that we’ll have a tornado-safe place for our children,” Bolin said. “Because of the way we are out here with just nothing but farmland around us, when those high winds come through it’s absolutely fabulous to have just a safe place for our kids to go.”
Additions at Beeson include two music classrooms and a special education classroom, both of which are storm protected. The school also received extra cemented space by the playground where classroom experiments and activities can take place.
The storm protected classrooms are surrounded by roughly 10,000 pounds of concrete for storm protection and include storm safe windows with a thick door that can be shut in times of emergency. Bolin feels that the storm protected classrooms will reassure concerned students and families.
“We have families here who have been impacted by tornadoes and actually have some residual trauma from that with loud sounds,” Bolin stated. “It was so great when we enrolled them to be able to say ‘okay, but we have this now, so you are going to be safe here.’ It’s really exciting.”
The two new music classrooms allows for a better learning environment to students who were previously overcrowded.
“Like all of our schools, we were overcrowded,” said Bolin. “Our overcrowding just happened to be in the music/P.E. area, so for us it’s really going to create space building-wide. Even though it’s just two rooms, it impacts every classroom because we so desperately needed that for music.”
Bolin stated that the staff is also eager to utilize the new storm protected classrooms.
“It’s really rewarding to open a new space, to take your teachers and show them their new space, to watch it grow and let them dream about what it’s going to look like and how they’re going to collaborate and how the space is going to be used,” Bolin stated. “For me, it’s really rewarding. The space isn’t as rewarding as watching the teachers just be so honored to have a new space.”
Beeson will hold a grand opening ceremony in honor of the building additions. During the ceremony, students will sing the school song and former principal Annette Aldape will make a guest appearance.
“What she doesn’t know is that we created a plaque because (she) was actually in charge of elementary music,” Bolin said on Aldape. “She coordinated all the music programs district-wide, she worked for the high school on their plays and did the PR, so she really was the arts principal. She’s speaking about the arts, and then we actually have a plaque for her and we’ll hang it in the music wing to honor her area.”
At the end of the ceremony, students will get to view the new storm protected facility for the first time.
“We’ll conclude with the kiddos going back to class,’ said Bolin. “Then we’ll have a tornado drill. We’ll pull the alarm, and then we’ll have them enter the facility for the first time.”
Bolin expressed her gratitude towards the community for making this project possible.
“We just really appreciate the public voting for the bond issue because without their support, we wouldn’t be where we are,” said Bolin. “I love that our community has said ‘safety is important’, because in this day and age parents want us to keep our kiddos safe, so I’m appreciative of them.”
Bill Hammond, executive director of business and operations, also expressed gratitude towards the community for supporting the district during these times.
“We really appreciate having a community who places education high and the safety of our kids, cause with a lot of other communities, that’s not the case,” said Hammond. “That vote was a very important thing for this community and we appreciate it. We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure that we spend every dollar wisely and get these kind of results.”
Hammond also stated that the projects are currently on time and on budget.
The grand opening ceremony will be held at Beeson on Tuesday at 9 a.m.