Cactus Valley Elementary opens new era for Silt |

Cactus Valley Elementary opens new era for Silt

John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent

SILT – With the ending of an era, another one begins.Just two weeks earlier, in the still town of Silt, students at Roy Moore Elementary School packed their bags and left the school for the last time. They went on holiday break and enjoyed the time away from school but they knew what to expect when they had to go back to school today.The students of Roy Moore are now the students of the newest addition to the Garfield School District Re-2, Cactus Valley Elementary. Today is the first day of classes for the students, and it’s a first day of school for the teachers and staff as well.”It’s all new and fun,” said Cactus Valley principal Lisa Whitmore. “It’s exciting.”Tuesday, the school was open for the first time to parents and students of Cactus Valley. It was an open house setting, with parents seeing how bond money was used and where their students are going to learn. But for the kids it was like another holiday gift.

“What do you think?” Whitmore asked a dark-haired girl as she entered the library.”It’s big,” the little girl answered, her eyes stuck wide open in amazement.The books in the library are still the same books that filled the shelves at Roy Moore. Many of the tables and chairs came from the school as well. But Whitmore was just glad to have a media center with a main purpose of being a place for students to study. The Roy Moore facility combined the library and the computer lab. Also a plus is that the new school has no trash cans in the middle of the floor, half filled with rain water from a leaky roof. There’s no more need for strategically placed, protective tarps.”We don’t have any tarps or leaks,” Whitmore said with a big smile.She is thankful that voters passed the 2006 bond to pay for the new facility, to provide a safer learning environment for the kids, but it’s the new technology throughout the building that enthralls her.”That is the part that I’m really jazzed about,” Whitmore said.The technology includes an electronic access system that allows teachers and faculty access to the building without the use of an actual key. The system uses an electronic key, similar in size to an actual key. It’s passed in front of a sensor and it opens the door. But if it’s lost or stolen, the key can be deactivated and won’t be able to open any door at the school.Another aspect of technology is in the design of the building. For safety purposes, all the exterior doors are locked during the day except two main entrance doors at the front of the building. Those two doors lead to a foyer that leads visitors to the main office. There is no way for any unauthorized people to enter the building without going through the office. And the students are still able to get out of the building in case of emergency.

“The design is very similar to Highland Elementary in Rifle,” Whitmore said. “We just added a few little things here and there, like different colors and some extra windows in the stairways.”Whitmore and a faculty committee had input into certain aspects of what they hoped to see at the new facility. Some were accepted and others were not, like windows that actually open.”None of the windows open,” Whitmore explained. “It has to do with the climate control system, and it’s not as easy to control if you have the windows open.”But if that is the biggest problem she has to deal with, she can surely handle it. It’s getting the kids through the first day at the new school that will be challenging.”That is what (Tuesday) was for,” Whitmore said. “It was an opportunity for the kids to come and see and explore the new school so it’s not so hard to focus on the first day. But I’m sure they will be floating for a couple of days.”Cactus Valley is about 16,000 square feet bigger than Roy Moore, bringing the school’s square footage to around 57,000 square feet. Pre-kindergarten through second grades are on the ground floor, with third- through fifth-grade classrooms on the second floor. The current capacity is set at 500 students for K-fourth grade; the current enrollment is 441, including the school’s last fifth-grade class.”We will have two graduating classes at the end of the year,” Whitmore said. “The fourth- and fifth-grade classes will both graduate and be at Riverside School (in New Castle) next year.”It’s only fitting for a school year that had two first days of classes this year.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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