Groundbreaking held for new Barryton Elementary construction

Pictured from left at a groundbreaking ceremony held at Chippewa Hills Barryton Elementary School on Tuesday are Brendon Pollard with Kingscott, elementary principal Amanda Kimball, former State Sen. Judy Emmons, district finance director Slater Martin, school board trustee Mary Olshewski, district school board president Douglas Bitler, paraprofessional Denise Place, kindergartner Violet Bouck, third-grade teacher Deb Voss, fourth-grader Colby Garchow, Jim Venton and Clint Clark with Wolgast Corporation, parent volunteer Sherri Carroll and district superintendent Bob Grover. (Pioneer photo/Tim Rath)

BARRYTON — A groundbreaking ceremony held Tuesday for the new Barryton Elementary School — set to open in fall 2020, adjacent to the current school — was the cause of celebration for students, staff and officials with the Chippewa Hills School District.

But for some in attendance, the event also brought to mind feelings of nostalgia for the old elementary, which is believed to have been built in the 1930s and has seen major additions through the years.

“A lot of the people in Barryton went to school, all 12 years, in this very building, before other schools were built,” said school board president Douglas Bitler. “You hear stories about retiring teachers who have spent their entire careers here in this building. There are a lot of memories here.

“But there’s also a lot of excitement. They know what they’re going to get — advancements in technology and security, moving our school district forward and into the future, where we need to be.”

The new school is being paid for with funds from a $23.5-million, 20-year bond approved by Chippewa Hills school district voters in May 2015. It’s part of the second phase of construction projects, totaling $16.2 million, which the district has taken on since the passage of the bond.

In addition to the new school, the second phase includes renovations at Mecosta and Weidman elementaries, which are currently under construction. Highlights of those projects include a new parking lot at Mecosta and a new front office at Weidman.

The first phase of construction projects, totaling $7.3 million, was completed in summer 2016. Major fixes and add-ons included a renovated high school gym floor, a revamped athletic complex with a new field, interior and exterior security cameras, new buses and new roofs at Mecosta and Weidman.

“The community came out and made a true investment in the future of Chippewa Hills — not only Barryton, but all the way up through 12th grade. They had a strong outpouring of investment in education for students here, and that’s great,” Bitler said.

The Barryton construction is the first new school being built in the district in 17 years, when the intermediate school went up.

Superintendent Bob Grover said the benefits students will enjoy in the 38,000-square-foot space are group instructional areas, a bigger gym, new security measures, new technology and increased safety due to being slightly further away from M-66.

Students’ schedules should not be affected by construction, Grover said.

When the new school is completed, the old elementary is expected to be demolished, he added.

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Posted by Tim Rath

Tim is the Pioneer's associate editor. He also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Veterans pages. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at trath@pioneergroup.com.

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