In person dedication brings joy • by Lauren Roth
Posted on 10/27/2022
Group of people on stage cutting a ceremonial ribbon
When students, staff and district dignitaries gathered to dedicate the new Stonewyck Elementary Oct. 25, it was a milestone in more than one way.

It was the first in-person school dedication since 2019. It was the first dedication that Dr. Maria Vazquez attended as superintendent. And it was the final dedication for District 3 School Board Member Linda Kobert, who is stepping down after eight years of service.

Stonewyck Elementary Principal Lee Parker told the students and faculty that they are what makes their new building into a school. “It’s a beautiful building, but that’s not enough to make me want to come here every day,” he said. ”It’s the people inside it.” 

Years ago, Dr. Vazquez was the one who pushed Parker to become a principal when he was an assistant principal. At the dedication, she presented Parker and the school with a ceremonial key from Dr. Barbara M. Jenkins, who was the superintendent when the school opened in August. Before the ceremony Dr. Vazquez climbed off the stage to give a hug to Parker’s mom, Rachel, who has volunteered at all of his schools over the years, and to his wife. 

She spoke to the teachers about the joy of opening a new school, which she did as a teacher at Shingle Creek Elementary and the refreshing “new carpet smell.”

Stonewyck is one of five new OCPS schools that opened this year. The others are Hamlin ES, Hamlin MS, Kelly Park School and Panther Lake ES. Stonewyck ES is 88,229 square feet and cost $27.2 million to build. The architect was Zyscovich and Pirtle was the construction manager.

Students from the school’s Gryphon Chorus got the morning off to a great start singing and dancing to the catchy, upbeat “Cantamos en nuestra Escuela” by Mike Wilson, which literally means “We sing in our school.” They later sang their new school song, “Mythical Gryphons” written by their music teacher, Darlene Grande. 

When the students sang, Board Member Kobert began to feel the emotion of the moment. When School Board Chair Teresa Jacobs spoke of Kobert’s passion for students and her effectiveness at bringing people together, she had to dab her eyes before speaking.

Although it’s been hard to say goodbye, Kobert told the students that “if you work hard and are dedicated, you will succeed.” 

Fifth-grader Alyssa Doyley, who spoke during the ceremony, said that she was nervous to move to a new school. “By the end of the first week, I realized change can be good,” she said.

“I’m in the first Safety Patrol, chorus and fifth-grade class. It’s a big honor.”