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An interior photograph of the new Schreiber High School Library/Media Center.

Port Washington school officials, students, parents and faculty members alike had much to celebrate at a ceremony rededicating new school facilities at the end of last year's school year. Even more to celebrate was the fact that the construction was completed nearly $500,000 under budget, from the district's 2001 $68 million construction bond.

"Working hand-in-hand with the district's board of education, we were able to complete this much-needed construction in a timely fashion and substantially under budget," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoffrey N. Gordon, "Here in Port Washington, we are continually looking for ways to improve the quality of education for our children while always exercising prudent fiscal management."

Another shot of the new Schreiber library.

Board of education member Jean-Marie Posner echoed the sentiments of Dr. Gordon. "This rededication represents a district goal that was fulfilled and improves the educational environment for all of our students and educators."

The new construction, at South Salem Elementary, Daly Elementary, Carrie P. Weber Middle and Paul D. Schreiber High Schools was heralded with brief ceremonies that included the unveiling of a bronze plaque, building tours and congratulatory comments from past and present school officials, board of education members, teachers and students. Punctuated by student-supplied musical interludes, the ceremonies featured school tribute songs and even a harpist.

Students also spoke eloquently expressing thanks to the community and to school officials for addressing the needs of the district's burgeoning student population. "Dealing with the construction for several years wasn't easy, but now that it's over we all think it was worth the inconvenience," said a student who spoke at the Weber ceremony. "We now have a great new library, media center and new classrooms. It was definitely worth the wait."

At South Salem Elementary School, principal Chris Shields spoke about the special significance of the renovations to a school whose future was certainly in jeopardy, after having been closed for the past 15 years. "The community spoke up loud and clear that they wanted South Salem and that's why we're here today," Shields said. "The faculty and the students have worked together and continue to work together so we can all be successful."

However, young Stephen Nash, a student at Weber Middle School, stole the show with a rededication speech he wrote for the occasion. Following is his eloquent and thoughtful commentary on the "construction experience."

First, I would like to thank Mrs. Rodahan for the opportunity to speak to you today regarding the construction experience at Weber.

I am ideally situated to provide a perspective of the construction from the viewpoints of the students in the school because we had the good fortune of being the first group to enjoy the new facilities. I would be remiss if I didn't thank the current board and immediate predecessors for having the vision and courage to take the issue of construction to the community, and stand up and fight for the necessary changes. Believe it or not, the students understand full-well that some in the community opposed the construction and campaigned hard against the bond issue. The students have benefited directly from the improvements and expanded facilities, and I know I speak for everyone in the school to simply say thank you.

Personally, when I was a young sixth grader, the school looked very big to me in its old form. During my first few days, I was very concerned whether I could make it from class to class in the span of four minutes. As we became more acclimated we came to see the need for expansion.

When the construction started the kids didn't understand how classes could be conducted without interruption, but we were all pleasantly surprised how smoothly everything went. With everyone's cooperation we were all able to attend classes without any lost time, or missed lessons. Looking back, I believe it was remarkable that so much work could be done while we attended our classes.

However, that is not to say that the construction went off without any glitches. For example, we all know of the infamous ruler that fell through the ceiling during a class. Or, during tests the prominent sound was not the sharpening of pencils or writing, but of cranes right outside the windows.

However, all in all, we are so proud of the new library, the new Weber café, the new wing, and all the other expansions. We have all come to realize that the small sacrifices that we made paid off. Even though it is a mile long, we are very fortunate to call this facility our school.

I would like to end my remarks with this thought, however. Hopefully the board and superintendent will always keep this in mind: no matter how beautiful a facility is, and we surely have beautiful facilities in Port Washington, what gives life to this school are the tremendous teachers and administrators who utilize the new facilities to give the students in Weber the opportunity for a great education. I believe that our teachers and administrators only add to the tremendous physical facility that we now enjoy; a credit to this community. Thank you!

* A new technology, art and music wing at Schreiber High School, a new library/media center as well as an entire wing of general education classrooms

* New technology & special education rooms at Weber Middle School; a new corridor link; renovated bathrooms and multipurpose spaces as well as an entire wing of general education classrooms

* New kindergarten classrooms, enlarged gymnasium and expanded parking facilities at Daly Elementary School

* New Library/Media Center at Weber Middle School; a new corridor link; renovated bathrooms as well as an entire wing of general education classes.


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