by Mary Rupert
Wind gusts may have knocked the yellow plastic construction hats off future Piper intermediate students at Thursday’s school groundbreaking, but that wasn’t enough to impede the ceremony.
It was just another tiny setback in a five-year effort to build a new school. Piper broke ground today at 131st and Leavenworth Road.
Piper school district officials were quick to replace the kids’ yellow construction hats with heavier construction hats for adults. Winds were gusting to 28 mph Thursday afternoon, with a temperature of 41 and a wind chill of 33. Speeches for the event were held inside a tent at the site of the new school, with the wind whipping at the sides of the tent. More than 50 people attended.
Tim Conrad, Piper School District superintendent, noted that the voters approved this bond issue by a 70-30 margin. Voters approved the $35 million bond issue for the school last February. Two years before that, Piper voters defeated at $67 million school bond issue.
The new school at 131st and Leavenworth Road will be for third through fifth grades.
“In a sense, we’re giving this land to our kids in the future in Piper,” Conrad said. “In 17 months, this spot will be filled with laughter, with learning, with collaboration.”
The building is for the future of 700 children in the Piper district, he said. The district is celebrating its 100th graduating class this year, he added.
“We’re going to build the future, one child at a time,” Conrad said.
Jeb Vader, Piper school board president, said a dedicated group made it possible for this project to move forward. He also acknowledged the voters as being important in the school effort. It is a challenge in a Class 4A school district, he added.
“The construction of this new building will support the students in our continually growing school community by providing much-needed additional space, a safe and secure learning environment, and cooperative learning spaces to ensure our children continue to grow and succeed to the best of their ability,” Vader said. “We look forward to seeing this progress and are excited to open the doors to the Piper students in the fall of 2020.”
Darrell Yoder, from the Vote Yes Committee, recalled that the effort to build a new school started in 2013, but then faced a challenge after a bond issue vote failed in 2015.
“It was a little bit of a challenge,” he said. “With those challenges, the opportunities came to work in collaboration with the community.”
When the community did not support the bond effort for a new high school, the committee had to come back and work with the community to determine what it wanted.
“We were at a point where the students were here, we had to find a place for the children,” he said.
Selected students from the Piper classes of 2028, 2029 and 2030, who will be the first to attend classes at the intermediate school, participated in the groundbreaking ceremony today.
Officials who attended the groundbreaking included Unified Government Commissioners Mike Kane and Melissa Bynum, and State Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore, D-36th Dist.