College Hill Elementary School will return to its old neighborhood this year, and families are planning a welcome back celebration.
“All the families are all really excited to be back,” said Holly Yeager, co-president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization.
Last year, the school held classes at the former Bryant Elementary School, near Ninth and West Street, after a fire damaged much of the College Hill building days before school was to begin. They called the temporary school “College Hill West.”
On Aug. 8, College Hill will hold a block party celebration to mark its return to the building at First and Clifton as well as to finally show off a new $1.7 million gymnasium and storm shelter that was completed last summer as part of the 2008 bond issue.
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The party will start at 6 p.m. with a dedication of the new gymnasium, followed by the school’s annual Meet-the-Teacher event. After that, families and neighbors are invited to a block party along Clifton – traffic will be blocked from First to Mildred – which will feature a DJ, balloon animals and a hotdog dinner.
T-shirts featuring the slogan “College Hill Homecoming 2014” will be sold for $10 each.
The school also plans to kick off a garden beautification project that evening, selling bricks that will be used to create a walkway around some raised vegetable gardens on the south side of the school. The bricks will be engraved with donors’ names, Yeager said.
After the fire, the Wichita district spent more than $5 million to repair and upgrade College Hill Elementary, which was built in 1976. Most of the cost was covered by insurance.
Changes include a new heating and air-conditioning system, roof, security system, electrical fixtures and computer network wiring. Movable partitions between some classrooms were replaced with permanent walls. Crews also brought the building up to current code and into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Twenty-two of the school’s 26 classrooms and the library sustained heavy damage from fire, smoke or water, officials said.