WRIGHTSTOWN >> Council Rock joined the Wrightstown community to celebrate the Rededication of the Wrightstown Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 2 with a ribbon cutting and open house.
Once considered for closure, the school recently underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation and addition project that included a new gymnasium, five new classrooms, creation of an outdoor classroom space, updated kitchen and cafeteria, a hallway connector, air conditioning and a renovated office suite.
The evening drew all nine school board members, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Fraser, members of the administrative cabinet, State Rep. Wendy Thomas, former board member Kyle McKessy and Wrightstown Township supervisors Chester Pogonowski and Jane Magne.
“These improvements and changes truly will enhance the quality of our daily lives here at Wrightstown Elementary,” said WES Principal Beth Fox, in welcoming everyone to the re-dedication. “Not only will the building better serve students who attend school here on a daily basis, but the newly renovated building will be a community asset that will serve everyone in the area.
“It’s here for all to benefit and enjoy regardless of grade or enrollment,” said Fox. “So please come together here for athletic events and programs and enjoy the expanded facilities in this beautifully-updated, smart building that will unite and educate all of our children and community members.”
Superintendent Dr. Robert Fraser added that Wrightstown Elementary, “probably more than any other school we have in the district, represents, to me anyway, all that is good and all that is right about our Council Rock Community coming together as one - one Council Rock, One CR.
”The building is gorgeous, but it’s not all about the brick and mortar or even the nice finishes. The good people of this Wrightstown community have been through a lot over these past several years from not knowing whether the m might close and then the whole way through the redistricting process. And the good people of the Richboro community likewise been through a lot from the closure of Richboro Middle School and also through the redistricting process. But somehow here we are inside this absolutely beautiful facility.
“And again, so much more impressive than the facility is how the people of this school community have come together as one to take care of our children. It just happens to be at this incredible state of the art school that provides the kind of first rate learning experiences that our CR students deserve.”
Fraser gave credit to director of operations Doug Taylor, director of education K-12 Andy Sanko, and Principal Fox who worked closely on the project with the Schrader Group, Dewy Engineering and the various contractors to make sure the project came in on time and under budget.
“This project has certainly been a labor of love and most importantly the students of this school now have the kinds of facilities, and consequently, the kind of learning opportunities that they so deserve,” said Fraser. “I’m excited to tour the school this evening and see, first hand, what a well-designed, fully-fictional school this is. Students were at the forefront of this entire process from the design phase extending the whole way to completion. It is a wonderful, wonderful school filled with even more wonderful people.”
Retired WES teacher Joanne Beckett reminisced about the sizzling days spent at Wrightstown before air conditioning, adding she was among the lucky ones assigned to an air conditioned modular classroom.
“Have you ever heard the saying, ‘Good things come in small packages?’ Wrightstown may be a small package, but so many good things come from it,” she said, holding up a large package representing Bucks County.
Inside, she said, there’s a smaller package representing the Council Rock School District and inside that an even smaller package representing WES, with its caring atmosphere, wonderful teachers, small country charm and its superior reputation.
“The packaging has now changed,” she said. “They remodeled and have renovated for the next chapter of history. But the contents stay the same. We’re all excited for the new stories, big and small, that will be written here in these new walls and rooms. And for the people, big and small, that will make them.
“Maybe big things do come in small packages. We may be a small country school,” she said, “but remember the Little Engine That Could? WES is that Little Engine that could, that has and that will.”
Following her remarks, fifth and sixth grade WES students delivered a musical “Welcome to our school” and sang about “My School” under the direction of choral Director Jonathan Tomaro.
Five students, representing the youngest and oldest attending the school, and two teachers were then given the honor of taking part in a ceremonial ribbon cutting held inside the new gymnasium.
Using a pair of giant scissors, students Sarah “Grace” Blatnick, Claire Barber and Nicholas Kerner cut the ribbon, which was held by Ryan Fox and Benjamin Hollenbach. Joining them were teachers Charlene Borah, who has taught at WES for the past 34 years, and Amanda Parker, a newer member of the staff.
Council Rock North senior and Eagle Scout Stephen Daniels closed the ceremony by speaking about the impact WES has had on his life.
“I would not be where I am today without my experiences here,” said Daniels. “Wrightstown has always been a special place in our community as a gathering spot where families come together creating a special community that, in my completely unbiased opinion, makes it the best school in the district.
Wrightstown teachers, he said, “contributed a foundation for a lifetimeof learning and instructional curiosity because they cared enough to give each student individualized attention.
“Wrightstown is also unique in how much school spirit it has for its size. I generally think that Wrightstown Elementary has more school spirit than Council Rock North,” he said to laughter from the audience.
It’s also unique in its smaller size, allowing students and teachers the ability to form closer and stronger relationships.
“In talking with my friends who went to other schools, some of them didn’t even know everyone in their grade. I think I knew everyone in my neighboring grades and was close friends with everyone in my grade,” he said.
“In an era where we don’t do nearly enough to get to know the people around us, Wrightstown and my time there serves as a powerful reminder to me of what relationships and community should be.”
The rededication ceremony concluded with the “Theme from Rocky”
performed by the Alumni and Friends Band under the direction of Newtown Middle School Band Director Keith Rudat.
After the ceremony, parents, students, teachers, community leaders and residents toured the newly renovated school and enjoyed a walk down memory lane.
Among the visitors was former WES Principal Fran Gelb, who retired in 1999 from the school district after working as a teacher and then in an administrative role at Holland and Wrightstown.
Gelb described the evening as “very nostalgic” and said she is “extremely, extremely proud” that the district made the decision to renovate the building for future generations to come rather than close it down. “This is wonderful.”
Gelb, who was Principal when the school was named a National Blue Ribbon School, said being the principal at WES was “absolute heaven. This is a great school. This is a wonderful school. And I hope it continues for a long, long time.”