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Ground Formally Broken at Elcho

The Elcho School gymnasium rocked with enthusiasm Wednesday, as students, staff and the community celebrated the ground-breaking of the district’s $18 million building and renovation project.

With big earth movers parked on the former school playground just yards away, district officials said thank you to a community that showed overwhelming support for education, agreeing to fund the school project and allow the district to spend a half-a-million-dollars annually above and beyond state-imposed limits for the next five years.

The gray skies cannot dampen the community spirit that made this day possible, District Administrator Bill Fisher said. Elcho pride is second to none. Go Hornets!

This has been a long time coming, Board President Dave Visser said, stressing that the revamped facility will be a centerpiece for the community. It was a great win to have on that referendum day.

Wendy DeNamur, representing the Community Building Task Force, also cheered the community and volunteers willingness to serve generously and dream endlessly while instructor Katrina Kubeny noted that while the next 18 months of construction will be challenging for students and staff the outcome will be phenomenal.

There were more thank yous from Kari Lazers, the board’s vice-president, who praised the staff’s adaptability to all of the changes that have happened and all of those yet to come.

Thank you to a community who realizes a safe and healthy facility and environment helps with the education of our students, Lazers said. This will impact the community for years to come.

The loudest applause came for sixth grader John Slowik, who prepared impressive remarks and also read a poem from his sister, Katelyn.

Slowik noted the unbelievable and never-ending support of the community and said that, truthfully, he is looking forward most to the new commons, which will replace a cramped, basement cafeteria, and gymnasium.

Rain stopped long enough for several turns of earth outside the elementary school entrance. The first shovelfuls were turned by Jessica Slowik’s multi-age classroom of kindergarten through second graders. Ceremonies followed for staff, community building task force members and community leaders, and the school board and administration.

In November, by a 57 to 43 percent margin, voters passed the $18 million project that will add a new gymnasium and fitness center, replace the 1938 elementary wing and make other improvements.

The plan was developed after extensive work by an ad hoc committee and a public survey that determined the district’s tolerance level for school improvements.

In addition to removing the existing elementary building, it will move the main office and entrance from the south to north end of the school complex with secure doors; add an additional gymnasium with a seating capacity of 1,200; and revamp existing locker rooms and music and band areas. The existing library will be downsized, with a portion turned over to an early childhood center.

New construction will also include a community fitness center, commons/cafeteria with seating for 300 to 350 and an adjoining kitchen; technology education and a mix of classrooms.

The goal is to complete the construction with the least disruption educationally. Occupancy is slated for the start of the 2018-19 term.

The 1938 elementary structure will remain in use through the 2017-18 school year. Once it is removed, the area would be redeveloped into a playground for youngsters up to grade two.

Elcho task force members and community leaders tossed shovelfuls of dirt into the air in a ceremonial ground-breaking for the school project.

Source: Antigo Daily Journal