November 12, 2019
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA—Flanked by golden shovels, a pair of construction trailers, and a towering 100-ton bulldozer, Walnut Valley USD celebrated the groundbreaking of a two-story, 14-classroom building at Collegewood Elementary on November 6.
Educators, students, parents, community members, and local officials gathered to commemorate the new 21stcentury educational center to be constructed at the northwest end of the Walnut campus.
“Our community is not just gifting us with a building, they are giving us a space to come together and change the way kids learn,” said Principal Dr. Mary Wendland.
The nearly $10-million transformational project, made possible by voter approval of Bond Measure WV, will lay the framework for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education at the school.
“I can hardly wait to invite students into this state-of-the-art learning space where their thinking will be challenged and friendships will be fostered,” Wendland added.
“I’m excited that Collegewood will be getting this new beautiful facility that is so well deserved!” shared Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.
The schools chief said that he is often reminded by community members of their connections to the school that first opened its doors more than a half century ago - even comparing to the popular Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
“That’s Collegewood to me - there are so many people that this school has impacted!” he added.
The long-awaited construction project will also include a new playground, amphitheater, exterior covered canopy, and removal of 14 outdated portable classrooms.
“Thank you to our entire Walnut Valley community for making this new addition to Collegewood a reality,” said Board President Helen Hall.
Construction will take part in two phases and is slated for completion in July 2021.
Principal Wendland said students had been “captivated” as construction crews began digging on the campus earlier in the week.
“All the kids are excited for the changes coming to our school,” said fifth grader Westley Matavo.
“It will be like watching a giant Lego structure being built by professionals!”
Collegewood students and staff members proudly donned blue plastic construction hats during the groundbreaking ceremony.
“This is a dream come true!” shared retired educator Jane Dyer-Smith of her milestone Collegewood memories that began as a student in 1965 and being hired to teach at her alma mater 15 years later.
“I’ve been a Collegewood Cougar for most of my life and have seen and experienced many changes here, but the one thing that will never change is your love for teaching and dedication to students, parents, and the community.”
We Dig It! Walnut Valley USD celebrates groundbreaking of new 21st century 2-story, 14 -classroom building at Collegewood Elementary. Shown: Board Members Dr. Tony Torng, Cindy Ruiz, Layla Abou-Taleb, Helen Hall, Larry Redinger, Principal Dr. Mary Wendland, Student Westley Matavo, and Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor
Collegewood Elementary staff members celebrate during groundbreaking ceremony.
Groundbreaking Day! Collegewood Elementary Principal Dr. Mary Wendland with fifth grader Westley Matavo, expresses gratitude to the community for new construction on campus.
Fifth grader Westley Matavo shares her excitement for new classroom building.
Your Future is Bright! WVUSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor with kindergartner Jolene Holton during Collegewood Elementary groundbreaking ceremony.
Original Collegewood Cougar Jane Dyer-Smith shares fond memories of the school.
Collegewood Elementary students, Principal Dr. Mary Wendland and Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor dig in at groundbreaking ceremony.
Golden Shovels! Walnut Valley USD leaders, with local officials, architects, and bond oversight committee commemorate groundbreaking of new two-story, 14 classroom STEAM building.
Collegewood students check out architectural renderings of new building on display.