<C>Adrian gets refurbished elementary school; <br> trying for new gym bond</C>

Students and staff at Adrian Elementary School are settled into their new classrooms and offices since construction was completed this fall.



"I think the people are just really amazed that this really happened, that they have this new school," Adrian Elementary Principal Russ Lofthus said Monday. "I don't think people realized how nice it was going to be. They're very proud of what they have here."



In December 1998, taxpayers in the Adrian School District said "yes" to a $4.9 million bond referendum for improvements to the district's elementary school facilities. It passed easily with a vote of 637 to 374.



"The reason it was so successful is that we had so many people in the community get involved in the process who took a real interest in it and got the information out to the public," Lofthus told the Star Herald after it passed.



Prior to construction, the early childhood special education, kindergarten and first-grade classes met in the high school, and grades 2-6 met in the elementary building.



Students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade are all now in the newly improved elementary building, and sixth-graders moved to what is now the middle school wing of the high school.



Lofthus said it's nice that all elementary students are now together, rather than in two separate buildings. AdrianÕs elementary enrollment has been holding steady, with three sections per grade. There are 320 students in grades K-5.



Renovations to parts of the 1954 building included adding 10 classrooms to the north and east sides plus a media center, art and music classrooms, a cafeteria and a full-service kitchen.



Construction also included new kindergarten and preschool rooms and new elementary office areas.



The 1912 elementary building, although charming with high ceilings, ornate woodwork and squeaking floors, will be demolished during Christmas break. The work was approved as part of the of the bond.



Lofthus said community members had a chance to salvage woodwork, doors, mop boards and other pieces of the old school during an auction earlier this year. "So they could save a piece of the past," he said.



The building didn't meet current fire safety codes nor was it accessible to people with mobility handicaps. The three-story building has bathrooms only in the basement and the electrical system cannot begin to meet the demands of computers.

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