Settling in to AME's new home
|Chiseling chunks for posterity
Hannah Crowe, left, former student at Anna Maria Elementary School, and mom Debbie of Holmes Beach, were intent on preserving a "chunk" of AME and so they joined workers Ron Bell, lower left, and Casey Kerns, right, in removing flagstone from the school exterior, some of which will be offered for sale by the school. Islander Photo: Nancy Ambrose
"Old is good, but new is terrific." That was first-grader
Joey Cucci's comment as he entered his new school for the first
After four years
of planning, the new school construction project is
drawing to a close. The new Anna Maria Elementary School
two-story building opened to students Jan. 4 and Principal
Kathy Hayes said students have done a remarkable job
at making the transition.
She said it's
always hard to open a new school after a holiday, to
make the transition mid-year, and especially hard to
adapt from an outdoor to indoor facility, but Island
students have "surpassed" her "greatest
expectations" by making the move with ease.
Hayes said teachers
spent hours unpacking over the holiday break, and the
day before school re-opened, furniture was being put
has been ordered from seven vendors and only 50 percent
of it has been delivered. Some of the items still to
come include work centers and play pieces for primary
grades, but 75 percent of classroom furniture is in
The school also
has a surplus of new cafeteria tables it hopes to sell.
Hayes said enough tables were delivered to seat all
300 students at one time, instead of accounting for
the fact that classes have different lunch periods.
Rather than returning the tables and paying a restocking
fee, Hayes hopes to sell the surplus to another school.
Speaking of surplus,
the auction held Jan. 7 to sell surplus items from
the old school building netted $9,500, which will be
used to purchase enhancements for the school, such
as decor, furniture and other finishing touches.
Hayes said the
Island school is the first in 10 years to be granted
the opportunity by the school board to hold an auction.
The last school permitted to have an auction was Samoset
Elementary School. "We're lucky that school
board members saw the value in allowing the community
to be involved; we were one of the oldest schools in
the district," said Hayes.
The bricks from
the entryway of the old school were not sold at auction
as originally intended. Instead, Hayes plans to work
with AME's Parent-Teacher Organization to offer
them for sale to parents, then others in the community.
She said a limited number of 75 bricks will be available
for sale. The remaining bricks are being reserved for
the school's new marquee, staff and special projects.
is a little behind on demolishing the old building.
Some of the portables have been removed and bulldozing
the classroom wings is to begin Jan. 16.
Hayes said it's
unfortunate that the demolition will take place when
class is in session, however, the majority of the work
will entail clearing the debris.
remain on campus. One is currently being used for art
and music classes, the other houses the technology
lab. Hayes said the technology lab will remain in the
portable this year, and she hopes that next year there
may be classroom space to move it inside the new building.
The room originally designated for the technology lab
is occupied by Phyllis Omilak's first-grade class
portables have been fumigated, repainted, given new
siding and are accessible by a raised wooden walkway.
Music and art
classes will eventually move into Building 9 of the
old school once renovations are complete.
With the main
building complete, plans are beginning to formulate
for added features. The picnic tables were salvaged
from the old school and placed outside the new cafeteria
for outdoor dining. The brick pavers from the former
picnic area will also be salvaged and used to create
an additional picnic area beneath the oak trees at
the former K-1 playground.
equipment is on the way and the covered pavilion, including
former Holmes Beach Commissioner Billie Martini's
donor plaque, will be completed soon.
Counselor Cindi Harrison said plans are beginning to
come together for the new peace garden, which will
be located next to the auditorium. She said the space
will be large and hopes to include a labrynth and a
pond with a waterfall. It will also feature the school's
memorial trees, an angel statue for volunteer Beth
Ann Schieble and benches.
The time capsule
buried on campus remains untouched and the original
Island school's bell tower will remain in its
current location near the auditorium.
tiles are currently being stored and will be installed
in the new school along the interior concrete walls.
Hayes thanked Mike Pierce and Robert Hicks for dismantling
the tile display from the breezeway and securing them
until they can be reinstalled.
Hayes also said
contractors from W.G. Mills have put in extra effort
in finishing this project, working sometimes late into
has been meticulous in its efforts and we have received
more than we expected from our construction budget," Hayes
said. "We went back to the school board for additional
funds three times, and each time our request was granted,
for which I thank Dr. Dearing and the school board.
will definitely be a showcase," said Hayes.
formal dedication ceremony will be scheduled by the
school district when the final phase of construction