LANSING | The shiny new gymnasium at Reavis Elementary School was packed Thursday for a ribbon cutting ceremony that officially unveiled the first of two phases of a renovation and expansion project at the school that serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Students actually moved into their new classrooms last month. The new section is attached to the old school building. The original part of the old section was constructed in 1956.
"There are 13 new classrooms in this new part," Principal Dave Kostopoulos said. "One of the classrooms is being used for the temporary office."
Parts of the old school structure will be gutted and renovated in phase two of the project, which is expected to add nine more classrooms, as well as a new library, an office complex and an art and music room. The old gymnasium will be turned into a lunchroom.
Kostopoulos said students are excited to come each day to the school that has a new playground with new equipment, hands-free sinks and soap dispensers and air conditioning throughout the new section.
"One student, when they were walking in that first day, she walked in and she said, ' This is like school heaven,'" he said.
The students are not the only ones who approve of the new surroundings, according to Kostopoulos.
"The teachers are ecstatic," he said. "The classrooms have more space. Overall, it's just a lot more comfortable in those classrooms for those kids."
Lansing Elementary District 158 Superintendent Cecilia Heiberger, School Board members, Village President Norm Abbott and district architect Jim Maciejewski took turns addressing the crowd before the ribbon cutting ceremony, which preceded the serving of cake in the school colors of red and white.
Heiberger said the new learning environment offers "a more spacious setting, the latest technology and beautiful new gym that serves as a multi-purpose room."
"None of this would have been possible without the vision of our board of education and the support, most importantly, of our families and the community," Heiberger said.
Maciejewski said the $7.44 million project has resulted in "a building that's much more environmentally friendly, as far as energy efficiency."
Prior to the ceremony, School Board President Robert Wood suggested that those elected to the board on April 9 should decide when phase two will begin.
"We really hope we'll be able to start the abatement (of the old section), this year, after school is out," Wood said. "And then we have to figure out about funding."
Lakeisha Wade attended the ribbon-cutting with her two daughters, both students at Reavis. Wade was impressed with the new facility.
"I really do love it and I think that it will help enhance the students' learning," she said.
Fifth-grader Zamya Wade seemed to agree with her mother's assessment.
"I like it very much," she said. "The gym is much bigger and our classroom is, too."