The first of three dedications for the Mexico Public School District was held Monday at the Mexico Middle School.

A new storm shelter/gym was added to the school as part of the district's renovations and additions to the public schools. The money was made possible from a bond issue passed by the voters in April 2016.

MMS Principal Deb Hill-Haag welcomed those attending and praised the community for their support. "This is a special community which puts kids first," Hill-Hagg said. She also asked all former teachers and administrators of the school to stand and be recognized. "Thanks for still holding us close," she told them.

Before former school board member Pat Maguire addressed the crowd, the MMS choir sang the National Anthem. Maguire told of the journey on how the gym was built. He said it all started in May 22, 2011, when a tornado ravaged through Joplin. "This opened the eyes of the school board," he said. He said the constant priority is the safety of the kids. The board decided to hold a bond issue for the addition and renovation of the schools including the storm shelter/gym at MMS. Maguire said in March 2016 a committee in support of the bond issue worked to get it passed. In addition to providing information about the bond issue, the volunteers went door to door encouraging voters to vote for the bond issue. On April 5, 2016, the voters said yes to the bond issue.

Superintendent Zachary Templeton, also thanked the community. "Thank you for supporting our schools," he said. He also gave praise to former Superintendent Kevin Freeman. "This was Mr. Freeman's vision." Templeton also recognized the board members, both past and present and the people behind the scenes, including teachers and maintenance crews.

In addition to the dedication celebration, the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony. MMS students surrounded Capri'Ona Fountain and Kali Turlington as they cut the ribbon. Chamber President Robby Miller presented a Progress Mexico Award to Hill-Haag. He thanked the school board for its vision plan and seeing it to the end.

Before the dedication ceremony ended school board member Heather DeMint reiterated what the other speakers before her said about the community supporting the students. "We are looking forward to more support in the future," she said. DeMint also gave praise to Hill-Haag for all she does for the students.

The next building to be dedicated will be the Mexico Early Childhood Center, at 1101 E. Anderson from 1:30 to 3:30 with the dedication at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 10. Dedication for Eugene Elementary School storm shelter/classroom addition will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, December 12.