A dedication ceremony was held Sunday at the Mexico Early Childhood Center.
The new center was part of the 2016 Bond Issue passed by voters. In addition to classrooms and a large multipurpose (playroom), it is also a storm shelter. There is also new playground equipment. The building is attached to McMillan Elementary School.
Emily Schmidt, director of the school, welcomed those attending and and thanked the community for being committed to education. "We are thankful for this building," she said.
Schmidt also recognized the teachers, former teachers, school board members and former school board members.
Cary Travis, former teacher, gave the history of the Early Childhood Center. She told how Gail Purcell was the pioneer in Mexico for early childhood education. In 1986 Purcell went to the board of education about the perspective of starting a pre-kindergarten center. "The board was not supportive," Travis said. Purcell continued several attempts and finally the board agreed to it. The first early childhood was held at McMillan. "It has come full circle," Travis said.
Screenings were held for 3 to 4 year olds and the children with the greatest needs attending. The program has been at various schools, with the latest location in its only building on North Jefferson Street until the move to its new location.
Also addressing those attending were Superintendent of Schools Dr. Zach Templeton, former superintendent Kevin Freeman and teachers Dot Quinlan and Molly Vagen.
Templeton said the building was a tribute to the community for their support of the public schools. He said the district values early childhood learning for students to help make them successful in kindergarten.
Freeman said he was thrilled to be in the new building. "This is a wonderful facility" he stated.
Quinlan and Vagen talked about how they are pleased with the new facility. Quinlan talked about how nice it is to have the large room for activities, new playground and classrooms. She also welcomed everyone to come back on a day with the students are there and to see "the magic we get to do."
Vegan talked about how she likes having a Smartboard in her classroom. She said the day is more engaging and lessons are easier. "It is so much better teaching and more enjoyable," she said.
After the program, Purcell said she like the new facility and working to get the early childhood started 31 years ago was worth it. "We tried to do what we felt what was needed," she said on getting the program started. "We have come a long way and is is so wonderful to see growth," she said.
The building was also opened for tours of the classrooms.
To commemorate their first year in the new building, a time capsule is being constructed with various items. It will be buried at the end of the year.