South Fayette dedicates new intermediate school

Published Aug 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm (Updated Aug 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm)

Hundreds of parents and their children didn’t seem to mind getting up early on a Saturday morning in the summertime for the dedication and grand opening of the new South Fayette Intermediate School.

The approximately $30-million, 125,000-square-foot facility opened its doors officially on Aug. 10 with a ceremony and official ribbon cutting.

The new school will house more than 670 third through fifth-graders once school starts Aug. 21 in South Fayette. Previously, third and fourth grade was housed in the elementary school and fifth grade in the middle school. Ground was broken for the school in November 2011.

At the dedication, the South Fayette School Board was on hand as were many of the district’s administrators and former faculty members. South Fayette Township Commissioners were in attendance as well as State Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, and a representative from U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s office. Dr. Linda Hippert, former superintendent at South Fayette and current director of the Allegheny Intermediate unit was also in attendance.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. How cool is this place!’” said rising South Fayette fifth-grader Jeff Martinsek of his first impressions of the new school.

“It was like really fancy,” said incoming third-grader Tommy Gealey when he first saw the school. He said he’s excited for the new school year and the Lego-themed STEAM room, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

“I’m excited,” said Caroline McKeever, who enters fourth grade this fall. She said she was most excited about the school’s cafeteria and the fact that the school is three stories tall.

South Fayette Superintendent Dr. Bille Rondinelli kicked off the ceremony by saying, “God has blessed us with a wonderful day.” She said the new school and its faculty is “an example of public education done best.”

Following the recitation of the pledge of allegiance and performance by South Fayette High School’s Little Green Machine Marching band, South Fayette alumnus Anthony Brown sang the Star Spangled Banner. A chorus made up of younger students then sang a song titled “Dreams Children Dream.”

During the program, Rondinelli said the school board and administrators have “genuinely looked out for the best interest of the students.” At that point in the program, Rondinelli asked that all students in attendance stand to be recognized and said, “You’re the reason we’re here.”

School Board President William Newcomer said that the grand opening was “a long-awaited moment.” He said growth in the district has exceeded a demographer’s prediction prior to the construction of the school.

“We’ve set a level of excellence that’s been maintained,” Newcomer said of the district and its staff. “The key is what’s best for the students,” he added.

“Congratulations on this wonderful achievement,” Sen. Matt Smith said. He praised the district’s emphasis on the STEAM initiative. “This is something that will pay dividends,” he said of the focus on STEAM education. “This entire community is to be commended,” he added.

Rep. Jesse White joked during his speech and said, “How did you get this many kids here this early on a Saturday morning?” Of the new school White said, “You have something really special here.”

Lou Lazzaro, representing Murphy, presented the district with a citation from the U.S. Congress.

“We’re here to dedicate the newest jewel on our campus,” said school board member Leonard Fornella. “The march to the top continues,” he said. The new school’s library was later dedicated to Fornella, a life-long township resident. He graduated from South Fayette High School in 1971 and has been a member of the district’s school board since 1980.

Joe Brennan of the construction management firm P.J. Dick and project manager on the school building said of the project, “We came in under budget and on time.”

“This year is going to be fun,” said Greg Wentzell, principal of the new intermediate school. He said there are many great features to the new building including the classrooms, library and media center, rooftop garden, STEAM studios, art room and cafeteria.

“We must all continue to strive for excellence in each child every day,” Wentzell said. “I’m humbled today to be the principal of this building.”

The official ribbon cutting ceremony was held during the middle of the presentation. A ribbon stretching across the stage in the school’s auditorium/gymnasium was cut by administrators and school board members.

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