You don’t expect to hear “Happy Birthday” at the dedication of a new school. If you were at this afternoon’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Genesee Hill Elementary, that’s exactly what you heard, at the behest of School Board rep Leslie Harris, in honor of principal Gerrit Kischner and some of the students who joined in the ceremony.
School Board rep Leslie Harris leads crowd in Happy B'day for principal, some students. Her daughter (contd).., pic.twitter.com/XVRVCNnRhY
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 6, 2016
Kischner joked that the new school is a “91,000-square-foot birthday present.” His parents were there to help celebrate.
For Harris, there also was a personal connection, as her daughter attended Pathfinder K-8 in the old Genesee Hill Elementary on the same site.
The principal, staff, and students moved from Schmitz Park Elementary, which they had long since outgrown (as proven by a plethora of portables there), but the ties to the Schmitz family, who gave the SPES site to the district long ago, remain strong. At today’s GHES ceremony, family representative Vicki Schmitz Block was given the last flag to fly over SPE before the end of last school year:
(As announced last week, SPE will not be vacant – it will host after-school programs for about 100 students.)
The GH ceremony was outdoors, while the Arbor Heights Elementary dedication two hours earlier was indoors, but both were followed by tours (here’s our original look inside GH) and both shared several dignitaries who took to the podium, including third-year Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland, who declared, “These really are awesome schools.”
(Both GH and AH were funded by the BEX IV levy passed by Seattle voters three and a half years ago.) Again, tomorrow’s the first day of school; GH is opening with about 700 students, already past official capacity, but it’s been configured so that portables will not be needed.