THAYER -- After months of anticipation the new Thayer Elementary School was celebrated and dedicated Aug. 15.
The celebration and dedication ceremony was attended by a large crowd. Thayer School Board president Randy Ward served as master of ceremonies. The event was kicked off when Thayer Brownie Troop 248 led over 400 guests in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Speakers for the event included: Thayer Mayor Allen Deckard; Thayer School Superintendent Bill Garrison; Thayer Elementary Principal Rod Priest; State Rep. Mike Dethrow; Putting Kids First Chairman Carrie Tucker; architect, Richard Werner; general contractor, Travis Snelling and Thayer School Board Vice President Bill Franz.
A slide show of the school's construction progress played throughout the ceremony.
"I am proud of this community. This school is an economic asset to the infrastructure of Thayer," said Deckard. "Speaking on behalf on the Thayer City Council, school board members, committee members, the principal, superintendent, teachers, volunteers and voters are to be commended on a job well done. Without each of them this would not have been possible," the mayor said.
Garrison echoed the sentiment of many of the afternoon speakers saying at one point that "This is all for the kids." He said that this new building was indeed the dream of most school superintendents. "I would like to thank the patrons of the school district for making this a reality. Many rumors came about during the construction of this new building. One was we had ran out of money. This is not so. As a matter of fact the building was completed $2,500 under budget," the superintendent said. He recognized architect Richard Warner and contractor Travis Snelling. "Without them this project would not have gone as smooth as it did," Garrison said. He added they still have things to do at the new school. He said things are still coming together.
Newly hired elementary principal Rod Priest spoke next. "When this job first came open I came to Thayer to visit. I was in this building with no ceiling and looking around I found a man working and at that time I thought this must be the maintenance man. I learned it was the superintendent," he said.
Throughout the ceremony Garrison was praised for his efforts and dedication to the new building.
"I'm proud to be part of this community. I have never seen as much commitment from a community put toward their youth. Few communities across the state make such a commitment." the principal said.
State Rep. Mike Dethrow praised the beautiful building and all the people that he said worked so hard. "This is a milestone in any community and a milestone for education in Thayer. This will last for generations to come. It is obvious the pride this community takes by the standing-room-only crowd. What better way to start a new school year than in a new building," Dethrow told the crowd. He presented a new flag to principal Priest during the ceremony.
Putting Kids First Chairperson Carrie Tucker was at the event and said she was proud of the community for pulling together and giving the children this opportunity.
Thayer School Board Vice President Bill Franz was the last scheduled speaker. He, too, expressed his appreciation to the superintendent and also to Betty Garrison. He read letters from Gov. Bob Holden, Missouri Commissioner of Education D. Kent King and Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson who were all invited but could not attend the dedication.
"I would like to recognize four former Thayer School Superintendents -- Hanford England, who is not here, George Bates, Bill Wheeler and Merle Williams," Franz said.
The new school had been the dream of many residents of the city for a long time. For many years the issue had been placed on the ballot and always failed. In September 2002 Putting Kids First was organized in Thayer.
It was an organization dedicated to generate interest and educate the community on Proposition 1, the $3.1 million school bond issue that appeared on the November 2002 election ballot. The issue passed in November 801 votes to 567.