Expanded De Beque school is ‘heartbeat of community’
When the nearly 200 students of De Beque School District 49JT start classes on Monday, there will be more than fresh school supplies and new classes to welcome them — for the first time, students will fill the new 28,000-square-foot addition that finished construction this month.
The addition, built onto the existing middle and high school at 730 Minter Ave., will house the elementary school as well as a new theater, library, art room, welding shop, wood shop, agriculture shop and gym.
Superintendent Alan Dillon said the project is a testament to community support. De Beque residents overwhelmingly approved a $11 million ballot measure in 2015 to build the new school addition.
The project was also funded by a $5.4 million grant from the state’s Building Excellent Schools Today fund. “I think our community is very proud to have a new facility,” Dillon said. “The thing we’re most excited about is that we can have everybody under one roof. ... So we’re really excited about that opportunity, to have our teachers and students and everybody be one community.”
Previously, the elementary school and other elective classes were located on the opposite side of campus from the middle and high school.
School Board President Dustin Sandidge said his expectations for the new building “have all been surpassed.”
“The school has always been the heartbeat of the community, so to see everyone come together and make this a reality is encouraging and inspirational,” Sandidge said.
While the new building is state of the art — including fiber optic internet and computers available for every student — there are also touches of nostalgia to make students feel at home.
A section of the old basketball court is on prominent display, and some of the lights from the old elementary school are still in use.
“I think more than anything (students) are going to like to see it be a very new building but have a lot of the same old feeling and character,” Sandidge said. “It will still feel like home.”
Dillon said the new school sets a tone for the entire De Beque community.
“I think it’s important for people to know that De Beque is alive and well,” he said. “We have nice facilities for our students and our community is in a good place.”