By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
For the Zadok Casey Middle School groundbreaking Tuesday, the school’s students were chosen as those most appropriate for the job.
Strapping on hard hats, six Casey students, Lauren Long, Andrew Hiatt, Trisha Nair, Kadin Asbery, Iabrieea James and Dylan Disroe, took hold of brand-new shovels and took the symbolic step in the construction and renovation project.
The event began with the playing of the National Anthem by a portion of the Casey Middle School band, on a day City Schools District 80 Board Chairman Craig Hedin called a glorious one for public education.
“Every institution needs a visionary,” Hedin said. “Most are busy with the status quo, but our visionary has been Dr. Kevin Settle.”
Hedin said the retired District 80 superintendent had a vision of improvements to Casey Middle School long before other administrators thought it could be made a reality.
“Kevin planted the seed,” he said. “He watered it, nurtured it and handed it off to Mike Green, who has done a little pruning. The tree has finally bloomed and we are excited as we can be.”
Hedin said currently, sixth graders attend classes in Andy Hall School, a building located behind the main middle school building, and have to walk outside in the elements to go to lunch, gym and other classes.
“We are going to move the pre-K students to Hall, so we will be consolidating the campus,” he said, adding that a larger cafeteria will be crafted, the old cafeteria will be turned into several classrooms, and a safer new entrance and administration area will be constructed.
Mt. Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley also spoke at the groundbreaking.
She said she has never seen so many groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings in one year in her whole life in Mt. Vernon.
She said the youth of the community is its future, and their knowledge is powerful.
“This is another milestone in the progress of providing quality education in the city of Mt. Vernon,” she said. “It’s an honor to be with you today. Thank you to all the people who made this day and construction possible.”
Casey Principal Mary McGreer thanked the past and present superintendents and the board of education for the improvements on the students’ behalf.
She promised to responsibly watch over the construction process and make sure it all goes well.