Despite the Sunday afternoon rain, about 200 people gathered at the site between Hudson Road and the Theodore Roosevelt High School stadium for the program honoring former Kent Superintendent Robert Stanton, for whom the new building is named.
Naming the building after the former superintendent is a fitting tribute to a man had an enormous impact on the school district, said Dr. Emilio Ferrara, a member of the board of education. As Roosevelt principal from 1952 to 1958, Stanton was involved in the planning of the current high school building. Later, during his tenure as superintendent, Stanton supervised construction of Holden and Walls elementary schools, as well as additions to the Franklin, Davey, Longcoy and Roosevelt buildings.
"His contributions to the Kent schools go far beyond bricks and mortar," Ferrara said, adding the Kent administrator was one of the founders of the Six District Educational Compact, which provides career education and services to students in six districts including Kent and Stow.
Stanton, who attended the ceremony with his wife, Helen, children and grandchildren, thanked the board for their generous introduction and the honor they had bestowed upon him.
"My heartfelt thinks and deepest appreciation for this great honor. This truly is a humbling experience," he said. "I do know I will prize and cherish this honor for the rest of my days.''
During his remarks, Stanton also charged the teachers and administrators with the task of coming up with imaginative ways to provide the best possible education for the developing students who will be attending classes at Stanton Middle School.
"I hold the expectation that this place will be a place of academic excellence ... and a source of great pride for the community," he said.
Five fourth-grade students, representing the district's five elementary schools, helped Stanton and district officials break ground on the new building. The students _ Stephen Ullinger from Central Elementary School, Julie Whyte from Franklin, Sarah Zawistowski from Holden, Taryn Vidic from Longcoy and the honoree's granddaughter, Alexandra Stanton from Walls_ will be part of the first class of sixth-grade students to attend Stanton Middle School in 1999.
"We hope to invite those same students back for the dedication," said Superintendent Marc Crail.
The five students will join about 950 of their peers at Stanton Middle School when it opens in 1999. Costing about $16.7-million, the two-story, 143,000-square-foot, Western Reserve building will have space for about 1,150 students when complete and include a two-level media center, a 500-seat gymnasium and an "auditeria" _ a combination cafeteria and auditorium.
Construction on the building will start in the next few weeks and the facility is scheduled to open in the fall of 1999.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place less than a year after the November election in 1996 when district voters approved 4.62-mill bond issue, which will raise $21.78 million to cover the cost of the new building, renovation work at Theodore Roosevelt High School and the remodeling of Davey Middle School for use as an elementary building.
Board member John Flynn also thanked members of the community for approving the project during the 1996 election and for their continued support of the school district.
"Thank you profusely for what you have done,'' Flynn said. "The easiest thing in the world is to go into a voting booth and when no one is watching vote no _ vote no to paying more taxes."