Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Carey panthers get new den

Community welcomes completion of high school addition

Express Staff Writer

Carey students test the new computers in the new Carey High School addition. Photo by Willy Cook

Before preparations for turkey and stuffing began, the community of Carey gathered to give thanks for their new school. Grandparents, parents, students, teachers and administrators gathered in the new Carey High School on Tuesday, Nov. 23, to celebrate the opening of the 43,000-square-foot addition to the high school.

"What a wonderful time to open a building—the Thanksgiving season—and to give thanks for a building like this," Carey School Principal John Peck told the audience.

The community gathered in the new 250-seat auditorium for the official opening of the addition located adjacent to the existing Carey School. The expansion includes a library, construction shop, administrative offices, 11 classrooms and storage space.

"It's a great education facility," Lee Cook, Carey high school health and physical education teacher, said.

"It's bigger and nicer. We've been waiting for it for a long time," remarked Danie Hennefer, a sixth-grade Carey student, while exploring the new computer room.

The opening came after setbacks in construction postponed completion from April to November. On Nov. 9, the school district obtained owner occupancy from Beniton Construction Company, which managed construction of the project. School staff and students began to move into the building with classes beginning on Nov. 22.

"You don't build something like this overnight. It's been a long time in the making...and what a beautiful building it is," Peck said.

During the open house on Tuesday, the celebration began with a ribbon cutting in front of the one-story brick building. Blaine County School District Board Chairman Howard Royal and Carey School student body president Melissa Peck cut the ribbon to begin the night's events. Festivities moved inside with musical performances by high school, middle school and elementary school students in the auditorium.

"The school is a wonderful addition to our community. It will become not only a school, but a community center," Cook said.

From the estimated crowd of 600 people who attended the event, it was clear the school had already established itself as a gathering spot for the town.

"This doubled our ability to have things as a community," said Blaine Tigney, athletic director and science teacher.

The addition enables the school to hold events such as the silent tree auction held during the open house. The auction featured 19 Christmas trees decorated by students with proceeds from the sale benefiting classes and organizations.

LaHeta Hansen, who volunteered at the auction and is also a grandmother of Carey students, commented, "(The building) is a milestone. We probably won't see another one of these for years."

In addition to the educational facilities, the new school also added a Memorial Garden with a wooden bench for contemplation.

The garden pays tribute to "all those who've gone before and all that go in the future," Peck explained.

The idea for the space came after Carey lost three students in a car accident last year.

"It's a nice, quiet little place for someone to go and have quiet time," Peck said.

"A building like this delivers a great deal of pride and service to a community," Blaine County School District Superintendent Jim Lewis remarked.

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