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Community celebrates new CG schools

By Tamera Rembert/The Ironton Tribune

Saturday, August 30, 2008 11:09 PM EDT

Dani Pitsenbarger reminded her mother that she didn’t want to wear certain shoes because she wanted to keep the floors clean in the new part of her elementary school.

Pitsenbarger is one of the hundreds of students who attend the newly constructed Dawson-Bryant Elementary School.

“I think it’s wonderful. It makes the morale of the children a lot better,” Mandy Pitsenbarger said about her second-grader Dani’s experiences. “She told me, ‘We will have a new playground and we will have to keep it clean.’”

Community members joined the students and teachers for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday at 1 p.m. in the new gymnasium, which is equipped with wireless scoreboards and adjustable basketball rims.

The project is part of a $250 million statewide initiative and has been under way since 2000 when state officials saw the disadvantage the children in the district were facing, said James Payne, the superintendent of Dawson-Bryant school district.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “And, as you can see, I think it’s been worth it.”

Bill Phillis, executive director for Coalition for Equality and Adequacy of School Funding, said the school district has come from one of the worst in America to one of the best.

Speakers addressed a sea of supporters dressed in red, black and white. The theme of the ceremony was past, present and future.

Retired teachers represented the past, teachers working at the school are the present and the students are the future.

Shelley Ulery, a third grade teacher, said the new facility has many advantages. She said all of the third-graders are on the same level, there are more restrooms and they have access to more tools that make it easier to teach and days go by smoother.

“We love the SMART board. It’s wonderful,” she said. “We also have new cabinets all over to store our stuff and they even have their own cubbies to put their things away so everything is organized.”

The teachers appreciate the new tools, but the students are excited about other things.

Hanna Wells, a fourth-grader said it is easier for her to learn because the building is so pretty.

Wade Jenkins, a fifth-grader said the new gym is his favorite part and he likes the new buses.

Sam Angelo, a fourth-grader said the food is even new and he enjoys the new playground.

Retired teachers have a different appreciation for every aspect of the construction and technology added to the school.

Pauline Williams and Helen Webb, both retired teachers from Dawson-Bryant said the new tools will help children learn better, and they both wished they had the tools teachers have now.

“In 1953 I thought the new building was the grandest thing,” Webb said. “It was a cracker box compared to this.”

Webb said she didn’t even have a fan in her classroom. She brought one from home.

Karen Tyo retired from teaching after 30 years and continues to substitute. She said she remembers when Dawson-Bryant was one room.

“By the time I had retired, they started making improvements,” Tyo said. “I had started in a little house on the prairie and became a 21st century teacher with a phone and computer in my classroom. It was a unique experience.”

The new school also has a new bus area, parent drop-off and pick-up area, buzz-in security system, library, music room, cafetorium and pre-kindergarten facility, Payne said.