The waiting has been difficult for many Garfield Elementary students and staff members. Since that June morning in 2011 when the bulldozer razed their old building and they made themselves at home in the old Lincoln Elementary building, life has been temporary. Camp Garfield is closed and students will attend school in their new school this week.
The final major project of the $48 million bond issue that was passed by Augusta voters in May of 2008 is now complete.
The day before Winter Break, each Garfield student was bused to the new location for a grand tour of the facility. They were shown their new classrooms along with all the other areas of the spacious building. Questions were answered and concerns addressed.
Exclamations of wonder echoed through the halls as the students got their first look at the new building.
"Wow!" "Cool." "Awesome." "Sweet." And one student summed up his feelings with "This is the best school ever!"
"We're all so excited. This is a dream come true for the teachers, the students and actually, the entire community. It's outstanding in every way," Principal Kim Clark said.
One of the unique features for the students is that they will have their own lockers where they can store their books, backpacks and other items.
Teachers and staff members had a vision for each classroom, hallway, and space. The architect made the visions a reality and the result is a new 60,000-square-foot-building that features tons of natural light, a spacious lunch room/commons area with a small stage area, a large library with lots of shelves, natural lighting, and storage. The state-of-the art gymnasium features a high ceiling, scoreboards and a stage that flows into a music/band room.
There is a FEMA shelter which incorporates classrooms, convenient restrooms and even a bright indoor recess area for those days that students will not be able to have recess outside.
The kitchen area is modern and conducive to a stress-free flow for the food line.
The administration section features a spacious front counter area, the Principal's office and meeting room, and a nice nurses' office.
The first area inside the front door is the commons/lunch area. The lightening is enhanced by Trespa panels and the east wall includes some wonderful architectural detail from the old building, which compliments the new.
The new building sits on the same location and in the same neighborhood. Looking through the windows, walking in the halls and throughout the new building, the essence of the old Garfield can still be felt.
For those who have been watching the project from the beginning and trying to envision what the school would look like, they are invited to celebrate the opening of the new Garfield Elementary School.
There will be an official ribbon cutting at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, and a Community Open House from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 13.
Augusta education timeline
1869 - School District No. 13, which included Augusta and attached territory, was organized. The school was held in the upper story of the C.N. James Trading Post, 303 State St., sometimes referred to as Blood’s Hall because the first teacher was L.N. Blood.
1870 - First public school building built on School St., south of the current City Building.
1879 - First high school met upstairs at the building on the corner of 5th and State St. (the building was later known as the Hudson Variety Store.)
1880 - The 8-room two story stone building, Lincoln School was built at a cost of $12,000 (this is the location of the current Augusta Middle School)
1911 - The stone and brick building at State St. and High, built at cost of $32,000, became the high school.
1918 - Garfield Elementary on High St. was built. (For many years only a few grades were housed in the new building, with the rest housed in the “Annex” building which was even referred to as “Lincoln School” at times.)
1922 - A new Augusta High School was built for $170,000 (location of current AMS). The old high school then became known as the Intermediate Building.
1924 - The heating plant (boiler building) was built between the Intermediate Building and Garfield.
1925 - The Industrial Arts Building was built just north of the high school for $30,000.
1938 - The old Lincoln building was razed and the new Augusta Junior High was built with the help of federal WPA funds at a cost of $125,000.
1939 - The stone field house at the rear of the Industrial Arts Building was constructed with the aid of WPA labor.
1940-1941 - New set of concrete base tennis courts installed behind the high school. School board purchased a tract of land on State St., removed several houses giving the schools a campus frontal leading directly upon State St.
1946 - An auto shop was added to the Industrial Arts Building for $10,000.
1947 - The senior high gym balcony was removed increasing usable space by 30 percent.
1947 - A new building fund was initiated by levying 2 mills.
1950 -Two rooms added to the Garfield Elementary building at a cost of $26,000.
1954 - Running track was improved and football bleachers added to Worl Field behind AHS.
1954 - A locker and dressing room added to the high school at a cost of $17,500.
1955 - The new Lincoln Elementary on Dearborn St. opened on Oct. 24th. and a new addition to Garfield Elementary were completed from a $475,000 bond issue.
1961 - Augusta voters authorized a school bond issue (1,117 yes - 828 no), to construct a new elementary school and to replace the old Garfield Annex, housing 185 elementary students at the time.
1962 - Robinson Elementary (cost $237,120)
1963 - Razing of the one time high school, junior high/intermediate school, and Garfield annex located at High and State St. (In 1954, a citizens’ committee recommended retirement of the Garfield annex because it was “unhealthy, unsanitary, and inefficient.”)
1971 -The new Augusta High School on Ohio St. was open. (cost $1,064.500)
1977 - Voters passed a $785,000 bond issue and with $175,000 expenditure from capital outlay, upgrades and improvements were made to both Lincoln and Garfield Elementary schools.
1994 - Former high school, middle school/junior high, and Industrial Arts building razed.
1995 - The new Augusta Middle School at same State St. location.
2008 - Augusta voters passed a $48 million bond issue and projects included a new Lincoln Elementary, a new Garfield Elementary, and improvement projects across the district in all other buildings. Anew lunch room, FEMA shelter/classrooms, and other improvements were added at Ewalt Elementary. Classrooms and improvements were also added at the Augusta High School. A new press box was built at AHS Hillier Stadium.
2010 - Robinson Elementary’s 18,120 square foot addition was complete and included FEMA shelter/classrooms, and a new gymnasium and stage area.
2011 - The new Lincoln Elementary School opened.
2012 - A new gym and a FEMA shelter, which houses four new classrooms were completed at the Augusta Middle School.
A new concessions and restroom area at the AHS baseball field has been completed.
The new Garfield Elementary School was completed in November. Students will begin attending in January, 2013.