How do you dedicate schools that have been in existence for decades? If you are the Mansfield school district, you pay tribute to the past and look ahead at the future.
The district dedicated Alice Ponder and J.L. Boren elementary schools Sunday afternoon with fond memories and funny stories about the original buildings and praise for the new facilities.
“I have only gone to one new school -- twice,” said Jane Hart, who attended the original opening of Alice Ponder Elementary in 1967 when her older sisters were students.
Hart, who also attended Alice Ponder, has taught at the school since 1986, teaching first and fourth grades and now serving as a reading specialist.
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“It’s a vast, modern building with the same mission, educating those who come through those doors,” Hart said. “We’re still Alice Ponder. It’s like we moved out of our house. Somebody said it’s like you moved out of your starter house.”
Across town at J.L. Boren Elementary, Worley Middle School principal Julia McMains recalled her grandfather, the school’s namesake and a former president of the Mansfield school board.
“My family and I are proud to have Bud Boren’s name on the front of the building, but his legacy is not in the bricks and mortar,” McMains said. “The family legacy from Bud Boren is to be champions for students.”
The two schools are among five elementaries to be demolished and rebuilt as part of the $198.5 million bond approved by voters in 2011. The new Tarver-Rendon Elementary opened in August 2013, and a new Glenn Harmon Elementary is expected to open in the fall of 2016 and the new Charlotte Anderson in spring 2017.
Alice Ponder Elementary students have attended the old Tarver-Rendon Elementary at 12350 Rendon Road for the past 18 months, while J.L. Boren Elementary students have had classes at the Judy K. Miller campus 403 N. Holland Road. Students and staff moved into new buildings constructed on their original sites Jan. 6, Alice Ponder Elementary at 102 Pleasant Ridge Drive and J.L. Boren Elementary at 1401 Country Club Drive.
Both new buildings have more than 84,000 square feet and built to hold 800 students. Constructed on the same prototype, the schools have insulated concrete form (concrete blocks filled with foam) to make them more energy efficient and geothermal heating and cooling. The buildings are constructed to last 50 years, said Associate Superintendent Jeff Brogden, but should last 100 years with good maintenance. The final cost for the buildings were $13.6 million for Alice Ponder Elementary and $13.9 million for J.L. Boren Elementary.
Brogden, who oversees facilities and bond programs, and Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas also said the buildings are not the real school.
“It’s not brick and mortar that make the school, it’s the people within,” Vaszauskas said.
The dedication at J.L. Boren Elementary was also a farewell for Principal John Williams, who retired this week. Williams, who has worked at the school for 15 years as principal and assistant principal, remembered dealing with leaks, floods and skunks at the original building, which opened as a solar-powered school in 1979. A second building was added onto in 1983.
Hart recalled the Alice Ponder Elementary’s original 12 classrooms, the open-concept remodel that took out the school’s walls and that Pleasant Ridge Drive was still a dirt road when the school opened in 1967.
Alice Ponder’s Dance Club performed a lively Mexican folk dance at their school’s dedication, while the third- and fourth-grade choir at J.L. Boren sang “Home.”
Williams and Alice Ponder Principal David Thayer closed their remarks the same way, “Welcome home.”
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451