“Garfield Grizzlies are very special people and Garfield is a place to teach, grow and dream."

An excited crowd of students, proud parents, faculty, administration, and community members all gathered on Thursday in the gymnasium to celebrate the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Garfield Elementary School.

Garfield Principal Kim Clark greeted the crowd and told the students, "I've never had a more exciting day than this. I've represented this school twice in Washington and once in New York City for national awards, but they can't compare to today."

She thanked the Augusta community for helping to make the new building a reality for the Garfield students and staff.

Superintendent John Black commended the students and told them, "Today is something that happens once in a lifetime."

He also congratulated the Garfield staff, "They packed, unpacked, packed and unpacked."

Dr. Black also thanked and honored those who had a part in the achievement: representatives from PBA, Crossland Construction, the local Board of Education, the district Oversight Committee, the Garfield staff and Site Council, Garfield PTO, former Superintendent Jim Lentz, Augusta City government.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend the Garfield  Open House from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Augusta Chamber of Commerce, Jai Play Project, the Garfield Construction Committee, the district Technical and Maintenance Departments, and the Augusta Gazette.

"And most important is the community. We thank the Augusta community," Black said.

USD 402 Board of Education President and former Garfield Principal Bob McCalla addressed the crowd next, "What a memorable experience!"

McCalla gave special recognition to Brenda Davis who was in charge of the bus that transported the students from Osage St. to the Camp Garfield location at the old Lincoln School for a year and a half.

Next he shared some special words by Dr. Seuss, "Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You're off to Great Places!

You're off and away!"

He thanked the students and staff members for being apart of the journey to the new facility. He honored the school's past and shared some of his memories of first coming to Garfield Elementary years ago.

"This square block has been a part of Augusta's education for a long, long time and that makes this new building even more special."

He detailed the old brick building, the portable buildings that were used and old school bus that was utilized for a special reading area.

He further explained that the old original building was a California-style building and that the architect didn't realize he was in Kansas. There was no hallway, the rooms weren't connected. There was just an overhang and the students were out in the weather whenever they left their classrooms. The snow would pile up and staff would have to dig snow away from the classroom doors.

"Garfield Grizzlies are very special people and Garfield is a place to teach, grow and dream. The students have always been proud of what they had and proud of being at Garfield. It's a special place with special teachers, too."

McCalla also thanked the Bond Committee, former Superintendent Lentz, the Board of Education and the community.