Pomp and circumstance mark school’s graduation to new facility
When Jesse Montgomery learned he was to give a speech at the dedication of the new Eudora High School building Nov. 20, the student council president asked a few of his classmates to explain what they liked best about their new digs. The students Montgomery quoted during last Thursday's ceremony sang the praises of a school that was less crowded and, in the words of one student, more "fancy-schmancy" than the former building.
Throughout the 45-minute dedication ceremony, leaders like Eudora Mayor Ron Conner and USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza reminded the students whom they had to thank for the $16 million school -- the taxpayers of Eudora, who were represented in the audience by parents, school patrons and community members.
"You need to thank the people in this community, who provided you with such a special building," Kobza said.
Kobza, a former social studies teacher, told the students that like Egypt's pyramids and Rome's colosseum, the new high school building also had something to say about the culture that built it.
"When you talk about the culture of Eudora, you're looking back on a history of education that has reached 100 years this year," Kobza said, referring to the first Eudora High School, which began on the top floor of a brick school building in 1903. "We know this community sets education as its top priority."
When Conner, a 1973 Eudora High School graduate, stepped onto the Kansas State University campus as a freshman, he said he felt prepared for college and had the Eudora schools to thank. The value of education in the community stretched to include Conner's own family. The mayor said he considered an "inspiration" his grandmother who took a computer class as a septegenarian
Conner advised the students against wasting their short time spent in high school and to instead take full advantage of the new facility.
"The students are asked to take an active part in their education and take the building and use it as a tool," Conner said.
Besides adding "K-10 curb appeal," Conner said he hoped to see the school give back to the community through collaborative efforts like broadcasting Eudora City Council meetings through a future broadcasting program at the high school.
In the same way, the mayor, who has had the distinction of overseeing the induction of two new Eudora High School buildings, said the city could give back through street upgrades and increased pedestrian access, adding that plans for south Church Street were in the works.
In addition to the presentation of a flag that flew over the Kansas capitol building, a ceremony revealing a plaque for the front entrance, and performances by the high school band and chorus, the dedication was full of "thank you's" to architects, engineers, contractors, bond committee members and staff who helped approve and build the facility that opened its doors in August.
Kobza admitted the process had been stressful and at times caused tension between him and the school's administrators, but he said they always managed to keep students' interests at heart.
"Why not Eudora?" he said. "Why not here? Why not the best education, the best facilities -- the best possible?"