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Saunders Breaks Ground on the Fairplay P-12 Campus Project

As featured in The Fairplay Flume on April 29, 2011

By Cassandra Brooks - Correspondent

A day awaited with much anticipation finally arrived on April 20 - the date of the official groundbreaking for the new Re-2 school complex in Fairplay.

The feeling of celebration in the air was almost tangible as people filled the South Park High School cafetorium for recognition of all those who had a hand in bringing the project to fruition. Cameras flashed and applause was plentiful as different committees took their place on the stand. A few short speeches built up to the final crescendo as a multitude of shovels bit into the earth amid exuberant smiles, jovial back-slapping and exchanging of handshakes.

The speech-making was held in the cafetorium before the crowd moved outside onto the grounds. The crowd made no bones about showing their feelings for Foss Smith, half of the facility liaison team, greeting him with a standing ovation and plenty of loud whistles. The other half of the team, Charlie Schultz, was unable to be present.

Smith acknowledged it was a privilege to help in the project. He attributed much of the success of the project to Saunders Construction, general contractor, with its "high quality team."

The Governor's Energy Office was recognized by Smith for its assistance and help. Calling the passage of ballot initiative 3A a "big hurdle," Smith spoke about the ribbon cutting they would be doing on the new high school and middle school a year from now.

School Board President Mike Smith took a trip down memory lane with a story about Chris Zak, assistant to the superintendent, who as a child was picking up rocks off the football field so the players wouldn't get hurt. He then repeated her story of when she was in high school watching the track team train by running down U.S. 285 to Colorado Highway 9.

Smith acknowledged the help and cooperation of the elected officials from the town and county, and thanked all those who voted for 3A, which provided half the funding for the roughly $30 million project. A state Building Excellent Schools Today grant provided the other half.

Referring to partnerships between community and school, Smith said: "We celebrate ourselves and acknowledge each other ... the most important people in this district is the children."

Smith proudly followed up with some history. Starting with the historic Edith Teter Elementary building, that has been continuously in use since its construction in 1881, the only one in Colorado that can make that claim, he called it "an era over 123 years old and growing."

He remarked about the children enduring heat and cold, leaks, roofs even caving in, all with good will. They couldn't host many athletic events because of a lack of space. He told about visiting teams changing in a classroom because there was no guest locker room. But with the new school facilities, all that will change, he said.

Bruce Larson, of Larson Incitti Architects, gave a rundown of a few architectural features to look forward to. With a graphic display, he pointed out the new parking space, a new secure entry plaza, the renovation to the midway, the many sloping roofs to accommodate snowfall, the exterior to coordinate with the old buildings, reduced energy use, and participation in the LEED (Leaders in Energy Efficiency Design) Gold program. Additional features he mentioned were the new synthetic turf for the football field, which will be constructed on the Spur Tract, the six-lane track circling the field, and a 100-space parking area. The bus barn will stay where it is for now, said Larson, but if finances allow, it may be moved to the Spur Tract in the future. Larson reported that this effort has been ongoing for about two and a half years, and that it's about half way through.

Mark Riedel, Senior Project Manager for Saunders Construction, fielded questions from the audience.

In addition, Matt Hahn, Catalyst Project Manager, said plans would be put on the website

Megan Walsh, representative from Catalyst Planning Group, praised Mike Smith for his contagious enthusiasm, Superintendent Becky Minnis for her commitment to teamwork, Director of Maintenance Facilities Wayne Walston for his robust facilities experience, bookkeeper Rachel Vance for her attention to details, Zak for her organizational skills, and Foss Smith and Charlie Schultz for their tireless dedication.

Superintendent Minnis handed out a survey to get opinions about whether to change the names of the elementary and middle schools to be consistent with the high school.

Names of the Edith Teter Building (which will become the administration building), the Scott Toyne Memorial Gymnasium, Bob Siemens Football Field, and Richard M. Ference Memorial Library will remain the same. The survey will be accessible on the school district website from May 2 to May 9.

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Rendering courtesy of Larson Incitti Architects.