Elon President Connie Ledoux Book and other local leaders officially celebrated the opening of the new school, which the university built in exchange for the elementary school's original property.
The Alamance County community celebrated an exciting opportunity for local students on Tuesday as Elon University, the Alamance-Burlington School System and local leaders marked the opening of the new Elon Elementary School with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Elon Elementary building officially opened for the 2019-20 academic year and is located roughly a mile north of Elon University. The former Elon Elementary was built in 1953 on East Haggard Avenue, near the heart of the university’s campus.
The new school is the result of a partnership between Elon and Alamance-Burlington School System. With the university’s continued growth, Elon and ABSS leaders began discussing a new path forward for the elementary school. The university proposed a plan to build a new Elon Elementary School on Walker Road in Elon in exchange for the existing school property. In 2017, the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education approved the university’s proposal and construction followed.
“It takes a lot of vision for us to be standing here today, vision … about the ability to imagine a new school, have the will to command the resources to do that, and the ability to make that unfold,” said Elon President Connie Ledoux Book.
The 94,500-square-foot school is home to more than 700 students and includes three main classroom wings with 34 classrooms and space for music, computers, art, teacher workrooms and resources rooms; a multipurpose room; a cafeteria with a full-service kitchen; a media center; an administration wing with nine offices, conference rooms, tutor rooms and teachers’ lounge; and a self-contained wing with three classrooms and two resource rooms. Samet Corp. built the new school in less than a year.
“The vision for this school, while it may have been focused on the brick and mortar — the non-living pieces of it — really becomes something transformative when our staff and students interact with it,” said ABSS Superintendent Bruce Benson.
A key theme of Tuesday’s ceremony was the importance of community partnerships. Katharine Frazier, vice chair of marketing and communications on the Alamance County Chamber of Commerce Board, said she believes the greatness of communities does not depend solely on the institutions and leaders that comprise it, but instead, the way those groups work together to reach common goals.
“We are excited to come here to celebrate the evidence of that collaboration that you can see in this brand new school building,” Frazier said. “And, just like those little kids on that first day, we’re excited to share in the joy of that milestone with the Alamance-Burlington School System and with Elon Elementary School.”
Attendees also heard from Amy Galey, chair of the Alamance County Board of Commissioners, who said she has the opportunity to attend numerous ribbon-cutting ceremonies throughout the community, but noted this ceremony came with added meaning, as it marks an important milestone for local students.
“To think that the children who are educated in this school are going to be the grandpas and grandmas of the future, it’s wonderful to think about the arc of their lives and where it will take them,” she said.
In February 2018, the Elon Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a special-use permit to allow the elementary school project to move forward. On Tuesday, Alderman John Peterson said the construction of Elon Elementary is an important step for the community.
“Elon is the Town of Oaks, right?” he asked. “Well, we’re going to suspend that for a day. We are the town of education today. Between this great university that we have, and this great elementary school that has been built. I’m so proud to represent [Mayor Jerry Tolley], my fellow aldermen and Alderwoman [Emily] Sharpe, to just say thank you to Elon and ABSS for making this possible.”
Following the ribbon-cutting, Elon Elementary Principal Jack Davern expressed gratitude to all parties involved in the construction of the new building. He also explained that the timing of the celebration, which was after the official start of the school year, had special meaning.
“I think everything happens for a reason,” he said. “This is fall, it’s harvest time, it’s homecoming time. This is our homecoming.”
Tuesday’s ceremony concluded with the planting of an oak tree that will grow alongside the current and future students of Elon Elementary as they learn and make memories inside their new school building.
“We’re thinking about time far past our leaderships,” Book said. “So this school represents an investment in our children’s children, and what can unfold when you invest in education.”
The new Elon Elementary School campus will help alleviate traffic congestion on heavily traveled Haggard Avenue and create a safer environment for families who pick up and drop off their children at school. Tuesday also marked the official transfer of the old Elon Elementary property from ABSS to the university. The site will eventually be home to a new residential and academic quad, but will serve as a new parking area for the university in the meantime.