Over the past several years Ogdensburg City School District Superintendent Timothy M. Vernsey has gotten used to speaking to a crowd, however the crowd he faced on Friday was unlike any other he had faced before.
We had to decide whether or not to rehabilitate Lincoln and Sherman Schools, Mr. Vernsey told the audience, before elaborating, That kind of means fix up.
The superintendent was speaking to a crowd of mostly young children, students in grades kindergarten through two, who all currently call Lincoln and Sherman elementary their academic homes.
The occasion was the official ground breaking of an 18- classroom addition that will house students from these two schools starting in the 2014-2015 academic year.
The addition was part of a $57 million dollar project approved by the districts voters in October of 2010.
Thats a lot of cash, he told the students referring to the projects total price tag.
The addition at Kennedy will also include a new gymnasium, band room and a reconstructed, larger cafeteria.
Shawn M. Travers, an architect from Bernier Carr & Associates, also spoke to the students.
Does anyone want to guess how old those schools are? he asked, receiving a variety of answers from his young audience.
500,000! one kid shouted, another shouted, 900 million.
No theyre not that old, Mr. Travers said, noting Lincoln Elementary was 86 years old and Sherman Elementary was 62.
Do you know what happens when things get that old? he asked.
They get broken, several students replied.
Mr. Travers explained the new school will be built where the students were sitting.
He then gave appointed each student project manager.
Were going to need some project managers, he said. Thats why we passed out these yellow hats. You guys are all going to be project managers, so when you drive by with your parents you can check out whats going on.
Mayor William D. Nelson closed out the ceremony, by informing the children he wishes he was back in school again.
Smartboards? I dont even know what a Smartboard is, he said, referring to the fact that each of the new classrooms will be equipped with a Smartboard.
These schools were built before your grandparents probably had cars, he said, adding he was glad to be a part of Fridays event.
Its a historic day, because we are going to be ending an era when we close Lincoln and Sherman Schools. he said.
Mr. Nelson also lobbied the kindergartners present for a return invitation to the additions grand opening in two years.
Those of you who are kindergartners here today will be the first students to open up the building, he said. I hope you all invite me back for that.