Hundreds in attendance at open house for new Holton school
An open house and ribbon cutting ceremony was held Sunday afternoon to dedicate the new Holton Elementary School.
“I want to thank the community on behalf of the board and the students for your forward thinking and providing such a facility to educate our children and, hopefully, draw other families to Holton,” said Holton Superintendent Dennis Stones.
Several hundred northeast Kansans attended the 30-minute ceremony that was kicked off with the national anthem played by the Holton High School band under the direction of Jayme Malsom.
Current and past school board members were present, as well as Nancy Meyer, the district’s former superintendent.
Board President Allen Arnold recognized the number of people it took to plan and build the new 90,000-square foot school that serves students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
“I want to thank everyone on the committees who attended extra meetings, toured schools and listened to the input of staff members and the public. I want to thank the staff, teachers, custodians and maintenance workers who put in extra hard hours and moved equipment to the new building,” Arnold said. “I want to point out how fortunate we are to have the guidance of Superintendent Stones. He brought valuable experience on school building projects in the past. His leadership ensured the successful completion of our new school.”
Holton Mayor Bob Dieckmann said the new school building, which features bright and spacious classrooms, lockers for students and bathrooms for each grade level, is a testament to the hard work of many people.
“You guys have created the ‘wow factor,’ and I truly mean that,” Dieckmann said. “We are very proud. With a building like this, we can’t go wrong. And with the great teachers inside of it, I know we can’t go wrong.”
Head architect Greg Porter of Hollis and Miller said that the district only had about two and a half acres of land to build the new school on.
“We had a postage stamp to build this thing on, and we had a school we had to keep in session and operating while we were building this one,” Porter said. “It was a tall order to build this, but the team the Holton district put together to help guide us was nothing short of phenomenal. What’s going on inside these wall – what the children are experiencing – is nothing short of 21st century learning and how it’s supposed to be implemented today. This building is going to prepare them in ways that their old schools may not have been able to.”
Michael Feamster representing Nabholtz Construction Company said the school building has already received an award of excellence by the Association of Buildings and Contractors. In addition, Nabholtz, which operates in 10 states, chooses one project a year that is the “most excellent in quality and leadership,” and the elementary school was chosen as this year’s winner.
“It was a team commitment that has been the success to deliver this project,” Feamster said. “When I first got involved with the project, I quickly realized the cohesion between Supt. Stones, Greg Porter of Hollis and Miller and also us from Nabholtz. The cohesion that its takes – that three-legged stool – of transparency, integrity, honesty and communication helped form a relationship to make this project successful.”
Beth Smith, building principal, said that some of her favorite features of the new school include the centrally-located library, the wide hallways for additional learning spaces, the full-sized gym and the murals that represent the school and district ideals.
“The journey started with a fundamental idea to build a 21st century school. The building, as a whole, is a work of art and I think you will be amazed today,” Smith said. “We are proud that we have built a safe and innovative school that our students will benefit for many, many future generations.”
While the HHS band played the school song, board members, administrators, several teachers, Porter and Feamster cut a ceremonial ribbon to dedicate the new building.
Members of the public were then able to tour the entire building with several fifth-grade students serving as guides at different locations throughout the building.