BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – Without a cloud in the sky on a perfect summer morning, the bummer of heading back to school was wiped away with a blessing, a song and welcome to the new $6 million Holy Trinity Elementary School.
Students, staff, dignitaries went from an 8:45 a.m. mass at the neighboring St. Mary’s church, a block east to a brand new school awaiting the Holy Trinity Catholic system’s kindergarten through sixth graders.
Elementary Principal Michael Sheerin said despite the new facility he said he doesn’t have a sense of newness as the school year opens.
“Yes, the building is new, but the spirit, the family and the community hasn’t changed and that’s what’s going to make these walls ring truer than any new coat of paint or anything else,” Sheerin said Friday morning.
The campaign to fund the new school started in January of 2017 and construction started in the spring of 2018. Dennis Menke, the fundraising chairman, said the building is for all intents and purposes finished.
“You always have the little things to do at the end,” Menke said.
“It’s pretty much done. We’re at the stage now, we really don’t know what we don’t have done or what we need to do. It will be a couple weeks or months before we get all that put together, but we’re pretty much done. It was all well thought out and planned and the board worked with us real well.”
Menke said the building was a collaboration of efforts of the communities in the system to bring a better environment to the students and staff.
“The communities have come together to create a learning experience for generations to come,” he said. “It’s with the support of the community that we’ve been able to do this.”
Sheerin said it couldn’t have been a better day for the event.
“The thing about it is you couldn’t have scripted a better day,” he said.
“The morning started with beautiful sunshine and happy, smiling faces. Honest to God it was the most picturesque thing that you could think about. For me, not being from here, it epitomized everything I thought middle America was.”
He said, as Bishop Thomas Zinkula issued a blessing on the new facility, an eagle soared in the sky above the students assembled on Avenue D in front of the elementary.
“We had kids happy coming into school, the sun shining without a cloud in the sky, parents here and everybody friendly, and then to top it off there was a bald eagle soaring above,” Sheerin said.
“It was the perfect balance of mass, patriotism, sun shining. It couldn’t have been a better poster for America. It made you feel that good. I hope every school has this same type of opening day.”
The first two days meals were prepared by Elliott Test Kitchen founder Kumar Wickramasingha and an added treat to the students.
The first floor will hold the K-3rd grade students, a new cafeteria and kitchen and some administrative and staff space and a small centralized media center.
The upper floor holds classrooms for 4th – 6th grade students. With classrooms running down the east side of the building all but one of the classrooms is expandable. Sheerin said there is still some small issues to deal with like new tables for the cafeteria and some signage and decoration that he wants the students to be a part of creating.
The building was funded totally by private donations and pledges secured over the past 2.5 years.