FAIRMONT, W.Va. – It’s official, East Dale Elementary School is expanding, and it marked the announcement with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, Aug. 20.
School administrators and other officials gathered at East Dale on Friday afternoon to officially break ground on what will become a new addition to the school. The new addition will allow pre-K and kindergarten students from Meadowdale Elementary and other schools to join all other grade levels at East Dale. Construction of the new addition is supposed to last 10 months.
“First of all, as a school, this is monumental in the fact that our pre-K and K are located off-campus, so oftentimes, although we are one school, it somewhat feels disjointed if you will,” East Dale Principal Melissa DeWitt said. “The other thing is that will enable the classrooms to do — it will enable the classrooms to fulfill the needs of their learners in a more efficient manner. Because although they’re in a facility and, you know, they are teaching and learning over there, with the new facility, they’ll have modern conveniences which is a game-changer. For our learning community, it’s a win-win.”
DeWitt said, East Dale’s goal is about “building tomorrow’s leaders” and so by adding on to the school it is helping the school and community “thrive”.
Always looking forward, East Dale created a time capsule for students to put in different items including a planner and a stuffed East Dale Bee plush toy. The goal is for “tomorrow’s leaders” to one day resurrect the time capsule and think of the past and their time at East Dale.
DeWitt’s enthusiasm for the future and everything the new addition will bring to the school was shared by the dozens of people at the groundbreaking ceremony. One of the most notable faces beaming with excitement was East Dale Assistant Principal Erin Board.
“I just want to say how excited we are,” Board said. “Because, again, we, truly, are a family as a staff and as a community, so it will be nice to have the family under one roof instead of, you know, like she said, you know, we are separate. However, we still are one unity, but it would be so nice to have the family under one roof.”
Board said one of the reasons she’s most excited is because it can be scary for younger students to transition to East Dale.
That is why they invite pre-k and kindergarten teachers to East Dale for the first day of class. That “familiar face” helps to soothe the transition and make it “not as intimidating”, Board said.
However, once the school is complete in 2022, any feeling of anxiousness derived from a building change will be a thing of the past.
“And again, they’ll feel like that sense of community and feel like one,” Board said.
Along with an easier transition to first grade for students, the new addition will bring with it an “alternate entry” and new offices. This has been a source of a lot of conversation, Principal DeWitt said.
“Please understand, we’re not asking for them to build us a new office,” DeWitt said. “The reason for the alternate entry is so, one, that we can have a man trap so that our entrance and exiting will be secure. The other thing that we’re asking with this alternate entry is we have two ways to kiddos will enter East Dale; like in the morning, so the parent pickup will be through the alternate entrance. The bus will be at a different entrance, so by affording us that, you’re going to help the traffic flow and you’re going to help the movement as a whole, so it’s more than just moving the offices.”
DeWitt continued, “Lastly, I’ll add, with the alternate entry you, also, have to keep in mind that they are remodeling a couple of our restrooms so that they are ADA compliant now, so that all students will have equal access to the student bathrooms.”
Through much of this construction project, students will be in school. But, DeWitt said the school does not foresee that as a problem.
As far as the students go, she said, the construction “shouldn’t interfere” with anything they have going on. But that will not be the case for traffic patterns.
“Our traffic patterns, pick up and drop off, is going to be disturbed, so we beg for everybody’s patience,” DeWitt said. “Because again, we’re going to be under construction. And that’s going to affect our flow, so our wait times are going to increase significantly.”
But, the hope is that the significant increase in wait times will be worth it when the new addition to East Dale is complete.
DeWitt said she is grateful for everyone who made the project possible.
“I would like to say thank you to the Marion County Board of Ed because when Erin and I presented this at the LSIC two years ago, they saw it as an immediate need,” DeWitt said. “I want to say thank you to Mr. Farley, who was superintendent at the time, who worked feverishly to submit a proposal to the SBA. I want to say thank you to the SBA for hearing our cry and seeing our need. And then, I just want to say thank you to the board members who approved and are supporting us in this endeavor and thank you to our community at large. Because again, without all of the pieces of the puzzle coming together, this would not have happened, so we truly are grateful and we feel blessed.”