DEL NORTE- The new floors glistened under brand-new florescent lights as the gym at the Upper Rio Grande School District’s building filled to the brim with guests from around the Valley and students. Laughter echoed off the freshly painted walls and the sound of excited feet could be heard from every direction as student ascended the stairs from various classrooms for the dedication and opening ceremony for their new school.
Parents, community members, teachers and staff spent the next 10 minutes shaking hands and congratulating each other on a job well done. If it hadn’t been for the community, passing a $18 million bond two years ago, the building in which they stood would not be in existence. The pride that reverberated through the room could be felt by everyone in attendance and was shared as a community for the next hour.
The ceremony kicked off with the national anthem sung by the Junior and Senior Choir. Once the crowd was seated, keynote speaker and student Logan Cestone introduced research specialist for the Colorado State Land Board Courtney Hurst. “I am very proud on behalf of the Colorado State Land Board on congratulating you on your new school. I am also proud as a Del Norte community member. We are a state agency that manages all the stateland across Colorado for the purpose of building new schools. The money we gather through leases is what goes into being able to fund the BEST grant. Congratulations Del Norte!”
Next to speak was Stephanie Gross, the Trainor HL architect that helped design the school who spoke to the attending crowd, “I was very honored and very proud to be a part of this celebration and to have been a part of this project. I loved working with the entire team of people who helped with this project and cannot take all the credit for the work done here.”
FCI foreman Scott Klausen took a moment to thank the over 200 men and women who helped bring the project to completion. Klausen then presented school Superintendent Chris Burr with a bright orange construction vest that was signed by every person that worked on the school and stated that the vest would be hung somewhere in honor of the hard work and dedication that went into every inch of the new school.
URGSD School Board President Neal Walters was next to speak, “This is a historical day for schools in the South Fork and Del Norte area with many wonderful people here to share it with. So many people throughout Colorado worked so hard to make this happen and I would like to mention the one person, who was without a doubt, the one who is responsible for this new school. Two and a half years ago when we welcomed a new superintendent, he came to me with the idea of a new school and at first, I was skeptical, but the more he talked the more convinced I became. His efforts and drive led this project to where it is today. Thank you, Chris Burr for what you did for this district and this community.”
Burr stepped up and received a standing ovation from the attending crowd and began his speech by thanking everyone that helped bring the project to life and ended with a story. “I received one phone call from an out-of-state resident that had read an article in the paper about the design advisory group visiting Glenwood Springs Elementary School while gathering ideas for the new school. Her statement to me was “Get real, those students don’t deserve the same kind of school as the students in Glenwood.” I told her that I completely agreed; our students deserve way better.”
Students and staff gathered around the balcony above the gym and joined together for the ribbon cutting, officially marking the opening of the new school. Congratulations Del Norte!