PRSD Groundbreaking Ceremony Marks
First Step in Carrying Out Vision for Program for Grades 4, 5 & 6
More than 500 people participated in Pine-Richland School District’s (PRSD) groundbreaking ceremony for the new upper elementary school building on Sept. 13.
The ceremony moves Pine-Richland (PR) one step closer to its vision for a program for grades 4, 5 and 6.
"In less than two years, you will be entering one of the most modern educational facilities in Allegheny County that will stand on that site," said Robert D. Cooper, PRSD Supervisor of Elementary Education. "The building will be spectacular. You will have many opportunities to explore the pathways to the future as you learn in grades 4, 5 and 6."
Rain did not squelch a parade of participants that made its way, from Santacrose Stadium at Richland Elementary School in Gibsonia along Bakerstown Rd. and on to Ridge Rd., to the new site of the planned upper elementary school building.
The American Legion Post 548 and the PRHS band, dance team, colorguard and cheerleaders participated in the parade as well as teachers and future students of the building.
The student-oriented program featured hundreds of young voices singing in unison, under the direction of elementary music teachers Billie Hollenbaugh, Jill Linsz and Steve Rickenback. Students sang a choral selection entitled “Spectacular” written by Hollenbaugh and a choral selection entitled “We’ll be Working on the Building” written by Rickenback.
The band played “Stars and Stripes Forever” and Paula Dixon sang the “Star-Spangled Banner”.
The Croskey family was recognized for having three generations attend Pine-Richland. They led the “Pledge of Allegiance”.
Also on hand were: State Representative Mike Turzai, Audrey Rasmussen from State Senator Orie’s Office, Eckles Architecture, along with construction managers, district administrators, the PR School Board, Pine-Richland Opportunities Fund board members, teachers, students, parents and community members. PR Board President Gary Deschamps took the opportunity to thank all of those who were involved in the upper elementary school initiative.
"I want to thank all of those involved in assuring the success of this initiative: professional service providers, community leaders, teachers, administrators, students and most importantly, our residents," Deschamps said. "Without their support and willingness to sacrifice their time, talents and money for the education of our children none of this would be possible."
Monark Student Transportation provided busing from two parking locations to the groundbreaking ceremony.
The Northern Regional Police Department provided assistance for directing traffic during the parade, while the Richland Township Volunteer Fire Department provided a fire truck for the parade. PTO representatives and many parents and students volunteered to make the program a success.
PR Superintendent James C. Manley, PhD., who presented Eden Hall Farm Trustee Bill Lape with an honorary key to the new building, says the vision was created first.
“Everything we’ve done is based on a program that’s unique to grades 4, 5 and 6,” Dr. James C. Manley, superintendent, said. “We’re not building a school and then putting in a program. We’ve envisioned a program before we’ve built a building.”
The building, which will sit on land that was purchased from Eden Hall Farm, will be home to more than 1,200 students. Classrooms will belong to areas called communities. Each of the three communities will have 24 classrooms. Those communities will be broken down by neighborhoods with 12 classes. Neighborhoods will be broken down into even smaller areas called houses. Each house will have four classrooms. The structure of the communities will allow for team teaching and a feeling of interconnectedness.
Some of the features of the new building include a multi-purpose room, which will take the place of an auditorium. The seating will be retractable and collapsible, so the room can be used for art shows and science fairs.
Cooper said the building will feature red burgundy and white brick with peaks on the rooftop reminiscent of a farm house but yet with a sense of the future.
The building will feature special security features including a card swipe system. Guests must enter through the main office. The main lobby will be locked down from the rest of the building.
Much of the area will remain undisturbed keeping the tall grass and many of the current trees. Additional trees will be added. Dan Engen from Eckles Architecture spoke about the buildings connection to the environment during the groundbreaking ceremony.
“The building incorporates internal as well as external spaces to connect with the environment and create a natural and holistic site,” Architect Dan Engen said.
Three students, who will actually be students in the building when it opens in 2008, gave special speeches at the dedication. They included: Wexford Second grader Mark Aukerman, Hance Elementary third grader Natale Pyle and Richland Elementary fourth grader Rachel Wallace.
"The best part is I will be one of the first sixth grade classes to have recess," Wallace said. "The new school sounds super."
Construction of the building will take 22 months. The building is expected to open for the new school year in August of 2008.