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Ribbon cut on school addition

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes Hodgesville Elementary student Kimbree Vaun was the winner of a drawing to be able to cut the ribbon to the new addition at the school that was celebrated Friday.

BUCKHANNON — A $2.2 million addition to Hodgesville Elementary School — funded entirely by the School Building Authority — created a much needed, safer and comfortable space.

The addition added a pre-K classroom enabling Hodgesville pre-K students to stay in their community school, created a Safe Schools Entry and office space and updated the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system.

On Friday, the school and community celebrated the completion of the work performed by Huffman Corporation and designed by architect William Shriver.

Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus said bringing the younger students home was one of the more exciting elements of the project.

“It’s such an important day for the Hodgesville community and the families here because we know that schools are more than brick and mortar,” she said. “Schools are the community. They are the family, they are the students, they are the teachers, the grandparents. They are all the people who come each and every day to help you learn. They invest in your and your future. That is what makes up a school.”

Stankus thanked the school community who came to clean and prepare the school for opening in August in the midst of construction.

Shriver thanked the School Building Authority and Upshur County Board of Education.

“It’s taken the vision of the staff to create this addition,” he said. “We went through a number of scenarios before we got the one right. When we had the pre-bid meeting and explained the phasing as to how we needed to convert the office to a classroom and move Mrs. Phillips to a temporary location, Mark Eli from Huffman Corporation was saying ‘are you sure?’ We all said yes. I commend them for doing that.”

While the Safe Schools entry, office space and new classroom are visible, Shriver noted the less visible components such as the sprinkler system.

“The building now has a sprinkler system throughout the entire building,” he said. “That is something you don’t see but it is something that makes the building much safer for the occupants.”

Shriver recognized Scott Preston, clerk of the works.

“He’s an artisan, he’s a plumber, motivator, it just goes on and on,” he said. “He did help to keep the project moving and I thank him for that as well.”

Preston said, “I am the eyes and the ears of the architect, the SBA and the board of education.”

He called the project a success in terms of safety, schedule and budget.

“Most importantly, it had an impact on students, staff and everyone involved,” he said. “It will be memorable for the day that the crane came,” he said. “I took each class outside and for a brief moment of time we set in the grass and watched the crane lift some very heavy materials up on the roof.

“For me, the memories I have of this — and there are many memories — is probably working with children. I got to see the jitters of the pre-k kids come for the first time to school. I see them progress in personality, education and spirit all the way up to Mrs. Jones’ fifth-grade class of warriors.

“Most importantly as a non-educator, I worked with the staff and the teachers. They are far more than educators. They are nurturers, they are mentors, they pass out Band-Aids, they put out hugs, they teach respect and they teach discipline. While we can’t give them the raises they deserve, they now have a facility that is safe, it is warm in addition to sprinkling systems, they have heating and air conditioning.”

Principal Janet Phillips thanked everyone for attending the ribbon cutting or the “string day” as a kindergartener called the event.

“Hodgesville and Upshur County are very fortunate to have the support of the SBA and the Upshur County Board of Education,” she said. “Our $2.2 million renovation provided our community with a much-needed and beautiful addition. We love having our pre-K students on site.”

Preston had gone above and beyond to make the project a learning experience for the students, according to Phillips.

“The students, staff and families of Hodgesville have been great through this entire process,” she said. “We have the best school family in the world. We thank you all for your support and we welcome you all to our school.”