Memorial Elementary dedicates new building
Photos courtesy of Plano ISD -- From left; Memorial Elementary School Principal Sarika Pride accepts a proclomation from Plano City Councilman Pat Miner celebrating the opening of the new Memorial campus, which replaced the school's prior home of 45 years this year. The new building was rededicated with a patriotic ceremony Thursday night.
At most schools, writing on the walls would get a student detention.
At Plano ISD's newly rebuilt Memorial Elementary School, it's just another day on campus.
Floor-to-ceiling whiteboards are just one of the many improvements at the new campus, which was celebrated Thursday by former and current teachers, administrators and students with a patriotic rededication ceremony.
Guests were able to roam the halls to get a closer look at the facility, which now includes collaborative learning spaces, touch-screen computers and laptops for students.
Misty Petty, whose 6-year-old daughter Mya started kindergarten at Memorial this year, said the school's technological features and unique approach have impressed her most.
"It's all about collaboration and teamwork," she said. "Kids love that. When I was in school, you sat in a desk, in a row, all day long. They never sit in a desk, in a row, all day long. They work and learn together, and they figure things out together."
Addressing the crowd, Principal Sarika Pride said teachers and students were happy to see the new school being built just outside their windows last year, adding that opening the school at the beginning of the year was an "amazing honor."
"Even as we watched as empty space became a framework, and then ultimately a brick-and-mortar structure, nothing could prepare us for the reality of the first day of school welcoming the students and their families," she said.
Keeping in with the school's namesake -- a tribute to former Plano students who gave their lives in military service -- patriotic decorations littered the campus, and a video honoring the fallen heroes was on display at multiple locations throughout the campus.
In a keynote speech, former student and United States Air Force Captain Tom Plunkett said he did not know the meaning behind the school's name as a student, but that the school nevertheless instilled in him the values of leadership and service that ultimately led to his military career.
"One day," he said, addressing current students in the audience, "you will look back and remember the principal or teacher that helped you develop the tools to make you successful or change your life."
In a separate speech, Captain Ikedinachi Akagha, U.S. Navy, said it was at Memorial that he learned to open his horizons
"I have to admit: It made me a little sad when I heard that they were going to tear down the [old] building in an effort to rebuild and make more space for a large amount of students," he said. "But change isn't always bad ... sometimes a routine needs to be broken in order to ready ourselves for a better and brighter future."
Memorial opened at its original location in 1967. The original campus, which was located next to the new building, has since been demolished to make way for parking spaces. The construction of the new school was paid for by the district's 2008 bond election, which in the past three years has also financed the rebuilding of Sigler, Meadows and Mendenhall elementary schools.
Despite all the changes, Charles Greer, principal of Memorial from the mid-1970s to mid-1990s, said one thing has remained true at the school throughout all of its years.
"The key to having a good school is having a good staff, and this school has always had a great staff of people working that like to work with these kids, so that makes the difference," he said.