By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
The new Case Avenue Elementary School, the object of much debate in Sharon over the last four years, opened to students and parents Thursday for a meet-and-greet with faculty.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Principal Traci Valentino counted down with the overjoyed kids as she welcomed them into the new $19.6 million school.
The opening has been a long time coming for everyone – the students most of all.
As school officials and Sharon city residents squabbled over much of the project – starting with whether a new school should be built or the old one refurbished before branching out to other issues including parking and the cost of the 3-D tiger paws on the ceiling – kids waited patiently for this day to come to fruition.
Wide eyes and open mouths prevailed as the large crowd of people made their way into the front hall.
“It’s like a hotel,” a kid in the crowd said.
“It really takes your breath away when you walk in and see the ceiling and the banners,” Tara Metro, parent of a second- and a fourth-grader, said.
Noah Kubyako, sixth-grade honor student, excitedly looked out the windows of the art room to the cafeteria below with his mom, Dawn.
“It’s just amazing. They did a good job,” Dawn said. “I love the three-dimensional paw prints.”
Noah said he is excited after spending two years in a cramped space with no air conditioning at the old St. Joseph School building at 760 E. State Street.
“I’m excited to work here,” Amy Wood, fifth-grade parent and substitute teacher for the district, said.
The new school comes with many upgrades in spite of it being smaller than the old building, which was 150,000 square feet. Eckles Architecture Group designed the new school at 95,000 square feet to be more energy-efficient.
Electronic smart boards replaced blackboards in every classroom. Desks that stay open and won’t slam on little fingers were being opened and closed by fascinated students.
“I thought the meet-and-greet went really well,” Valentino said. “The kids were really excited.”