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Community gathers for dedication of new school

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monett R-1 District School Board members, administrators, faculty, staff, students and community members gathered for a ribbon cutting and dedication at the new Monett Elementary School on Saturday afternoon. In the photo above, MES Principal Susie Gasser prepares to cut the celebratory red ribbon in front of the main entrance to the new school. [Times Photo by Lisa Schlichtman] [Order this photo]
The Monett Elementary School opened its doors to the community on Saturday as R-1 School District officials hosted a ribbon cutting celebration and dedication at the newly renovated campus.

Dr. John Jungmann, R-1 superintendent, opened up the festivities by introducing members of the school board as well as representatives from Sapp Design Associates, architects for the project, and R.E. Smith Construction, general contractors. Specifically, Dr. Jungmann acknowledged the efforts of Pam Haldiman, lead architect for the project, and John Carr, site superintendent.

Both Sapp Design Associates and R.E. Smith Construction have been involved in the R-1 District's last three construction projects, which represent a $20 million investment in new facilities for Monett students.

"They've done an incredible amount of work in Monett, and we appreciate everything they've done," said Dr. Jungmann.

Dr. Jungmann also recognized the leadership of MES Principal Susie Gasser and Assistant Principal Sarah Garner during the 18-month-long construction and renovation process.

"These women have done an amazing job for our students," said Dr. Jungmann. "I can't imagine a better place for our kids. I also appreciate all the teachers and staff."

The superintendent also took the opportunity to highlight several remarkable features of the new Monett Elementary School, which include:

* A total of 93,000 square feet of space under one roof. Of that space, approximately 28,000 square feet was remodeled and 58,000 square feet is new space.

* Thirteen exterior entrances rather than 50 as well as one secured, controlled main access point into the building.

* A new 7,000-square-foot gymnasium that doubles as a FEMA-approved community shelter that can hold up to 1,200 people.

* Ten classrooms per grade level to allow for growth. The elementary school serves preschool through second grade students.

* A new and improved media center and four iPads in every classroom.

"We've created an excellent, controlled environment for our kids," said Dr. Jungmann. "We do believe it's an asset to our community."

The dedication also included remarks by Rebecca Merriman, chairman of the Proposition C.U.B.S. Committee, which spearheaded passage of the $4.5 million bond issue that helped make the new elementary school project possible.

"This is such a bright, happy place to be," said Merriman. "The building and the environment truly reflect the quality of education students are receiving here and the enthusiasm the teachers and faculty show toward their students."

School Board President Dr. J.D. Roberts also had a chance to speak at the dedication and he took the opportunity to thank patrons for their continued support of the school district.

"We have an elementary school that is second to none in southwest Missouri," said Roberts. "Even in difficult times, we were able to pass a $4.5 million bond issue and provide for our children. Most of all, we would like to thank the patrons of the R-1 District for their faith and support."

Principal Gasser closed out the afternoon's remarks by presenting a top 10 list of things she learned from going through a major construction project.

10. Teachers are flexible and they get the job done no matter what the circumstances.

9. When principals leave the building, the staff likes to experiment with the new gadgets.

8. Contractors are problem solvers.

7. Fire alarm pulls are just too tempting for some 5 year olds.

6. We have very nice neighbors.

5. Contractors throw away the lists you give them of what they need to do.

4. It is possible to get hundreds of kids in and out of the cafeteria through only one door.

3. School bus drivers are flexible as well.

2. Our teachers love kids.

1. Monett Elementary School students love going to school here no matter what.

"We're very grateful for this building, very grateful for our citizens, the board, Dr. Jungmann," said Gasser. "The people who work here every day are truly what makes this building great."

The dedication concluded with a ribbon cutting ceremony held in front of the main entrance to the school on Learning Lane followed by tours of the facility and refreshments.

Later in the afternoon, the campus was the site of the first annual Family Fun Fest, a carnival-themed fundraiser hosted by the MES Parent Teacher Organization.

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