Enthusiasm abounds: Grade school is dedicated in Audubon
"L-P-A!" "L-P-A" "L-P-A!" "L-P-A!"
The fist-pumping chant that filled the gymnasium at Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School Monday afternoon was a clear sign of the overwhelming enthusiasm of students, staff, administration and parents at the formal dedication of their new and renovated school facilities.
That enthusiasm carried over into a second dedication ceremony held just a few hours later, where State Rep. Paul Marquart made an appearance along with both past and present members of the LP-A School Board.
The afternoon festivities were more youth-oriented, as four students read essays about what they thought education would look like 100 years from now.
As LP-A Elementary Principal Sam Skaaland held up their essays so they could read them clearly, the students talked about flying schools that would come pick up students at their homes each morning, flying desks, robot teachers and even robot principals -- the latter drawing a comically exaggerated expression of dismay from Skaaland that caused a ripple of laughter to spread through the gymnasium.
"Today is a happy day," said LP-A School Board Chair Vicky Grondahl in her remarks to the crowd that afternoon.
She added that the dedication ceremonies were intended to not only celebrate "this fantastic, new and renovated facility," but everyone who made the $3.5 million construction project at the Audubon facility a reality.
"We're here to celebrate you -- every one of you," Grondahl said. "Many people worked very, very hard to make this happen ... they worked hard because they believed in each one of you students.
"We knew we had old, outdated facilities, and we knew you deserved better," she added, noting that "Lake Park-Audubon is a school of excellence," and the students and staff deserved a facility which reflected that excellence.
LP-A Superintendent Dale Hogie then talked a little bit about student achievement at the school, noting that they had done extremely well in last spring's MCA II tests.
LP-A students in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 achieved results in both the math and reading tests that exceeded the state average.
In sports vernacular, Hogie added, that meant "LP-A swept the MCA's last spring."
Later in the festivities, representatives from each class at LP-A Elementary placed memorabilia items into a time capsule located beneath the 2011 cornerstone that would soon be permanently affixed to the new school addition.
Meanwhile, the audience watched the proceedings via a live video feed in the gymnasium, then gave out a cheer that Hogie later said had "sounded like an episode of 'Move! That! Bus!' (referring to the famous catch phrase from 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' that precedes the reveal of the renovated home).
"There's nothing I like better than a school filled with enthusiasm," Hogie said. "I love what you're doing ... keep on being great LP-A Raiders."
Monday evening's festivities were a bit more formalized, as Hogie thanked all the architects, contractors, city and school board officials, parents, students and others who had "made significant contributions" to the success of the construction project.
"I'm no longer embarrassed to bring people into this building," Hogie said, noting that the $3.5 million upgrade had helped to make the elementary facilities a match for the excellence of its students and staff.
As Marquart and others toured the facilities following the evening ceremony, Hogie noted that next year it would be Lake Park's turn to experience the exhilaration of opening new school facilities.
The new high school for grades 7-12, located at the west edge of Lake Park, is slated for "substantial completion" by August 2012, which means it will be ready for occupancy in time for the start of the 2012-13 school year.
At the school board meeting held at the conclusion of the dedication festivities, Hogie noted that "the intent is for the building to be enclosed by Thanksgiving," to enable interior construction at the site to continue throughout the winter months.
Members of the Buildings and Grounds Committee had toured the high school site at their last meeting, and Grondahl talked about the experience.
"It was really exciting to stand in those spaces and really see what they are going to look like (when completed)," she said.
The short board meeting also included a presentation from LP-A senior Chloe Hanson, a member of the local chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) since eighth grade who is currently serving as vice president of community service for the state of Minnesota.
Hanson noted that membership in the local FCCLA chapter is "very strong," including about 60 students in grades 7-12.