MES new wing officially opens with special ceremonies |

MES new wing officially opens with special ceremonies

by Nancy Hamlett

Now with the ability to almost double student enrollment, students, teachers and staff at Minden Elementary School celebrated the opening of the newly completed wing with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the school.

Students covered the floor and lined the walls of the new pod Wednesday while they listened to Klaire Pirtle, principal since the school opened in 1995, say that it was an exciting day for everyone. Superintendent Pendery Clark thanked students who were inconvenienced by dust, noise and workers and praised the teachers and staff for being so flexible.

“You’ve turned this inconvenience into a learning experience. Now that we can see the addition, we realize that it was well worth it,” said Clark.

With a pair of ceremonial scissors, Pirtle, Clark and other dignitaries attempted to cut the ribbon. With a little persuasion by Rick Kester, the school district’s business manager, the yellow ribbon fluttered to the floor.

Administrators aren’t the only people pleased with the new addition. Parent Nikki Peterson is especially thankful that construction is over. Until the opening of the new wing, her child attended class in a room intended for storage.

“Yes, we came out of the closet,” Peterson said. “The difference is like night and day, literally. Now we have a window, room for desks and the students. This is an awesome experience.”

Melinda Reynolds and Judy Hatch managed to teach 41 1st- and 2nd-grade students in a classroom designed for 25. With the new wing, the students were able to split into three classes.

“The children walked in here that first day and dropped their jaws,” said Reynolds. “Now we have room to move around, interact and learn.”

It’s a toss-up who is the happiest, teachers, students or parents.

“It’s cool,” said 5th-grader Ryan McPeek. “I didn’t move classrooms, but this is good for everyone.”

“The school district promised that it wouldn’t ask for another bond until 2002, and they have kept their word while still providing this for us,” said parent Dianne Jennings. “And this addition is part of what is allowing other schools to go single track.”

Kester said the money for the pod addition came from the capital project fund.

“All of the money was generated from motor vehicle privilege tax and the $1,600 residential construction tax,” said Kester. “We had to put off improvements to Gardnerville Elementary for one year, but the overcrowding here gave it a high priority.”

Clark said now that the addition is complete, the district is in the process of rezoning school boundaries. Minden Elementary currently has an enrollment of 383 students. With the addition, the school has room for 500.

“The district will present a rezoning proposal at the next school board meeting,” said Clark. “We need to reduce the number of students at GES and increase the number of students here.”

After the tour of the new wing, students convened in the multi-purpose room for ice cream.

“Let’s build a sundae to celebrate building a school,” said Pirtle. “It’s a wonderful day for all of us.”