On February 6, friends, families and neighbors gathered in the courtyard of Hopi Elementary School to celebrate the grand opening of the school’s new campus.
There were laughs, applause and even a few tears as Principal Tamara Jagodzinski spoke about memories of the previous campus and her excitement of things to come.
“I am thrilled with the new building and am proud of what we created. I appreciate the support from the teachers, staff, and parents that were involved in this project,” said Jagodzinski. “I am excited to see what the future holds for the new school.”
Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board President Patty Beckman and Superintendent Dr. John Kriekard said a few words as the crowd huddled to stay warm on that chilly February afternoon.
Beckman highlighted how differing opinions about the new campus didn’t derail the project and how everyone came together to “build a beautiful home” for the staff and kids at Hopi.
“In a way, a school becomes a house for the teachers, staff and kids who are here every week. Hopi wanted to build something that everyone would be proud of, something that would last for generations,” Beckman said. “Even with different opinions, neighbors old and young came together to build a safe learning environment, a safe home for our kids.”
Dr. Kriekard talked about the beautiful views that Hopi Elementary has and about how there is a great appreciation for Hopi as a feeder school. Dr. Kriekard said Hopi possesses three qualities that make a school great: treating the students with respect, treating the staff as professional colleagues and treating parents as partners.
The fourth and fifth grade choir stood tall and proud as they sang a song dedicated to Hopi. There was also a traditional ribbon-cutting, signifying the start to a brand-new year at a brand-new campus.
“The dedication was a true celebration for the community. Not only is the building and construction complete…it also gave Hopi an opportunity to rebuild as a community. While the buildings changed, Hopi remained the same,” said attendee and Hopi PTA President Kyle Christensen. “It was the culmination of a lot of healing and accomplishment to see so many community members there that day; faces of Hopi past and present there to celebrate. It was a happy day for Hopi.”
Attendees were also welcome to purchase old bricks from the previous campus that were saved by the Restoration Committee of the Hopi PTA. The committee also archived and documented photos of the building and created photo books for purchase. There was also a chance to purchase a brick and have it engraved and installed at the new campus.
“I was honored to be in attendance to feel the past and present converge in harmony. With beautiful Camelback as our backdrop, we were reminded that even though the campus has changed, the grounds of our school remain almost sacred for many Arcadia families,” said attendee Heidi Richardson.
“The Hopi roots that grew past students and the Hopi roots that are growing current students are the same. These roots are the teachers and administrators who cultivate our children daily, creating exactly what the 4th/5th grade choir sang in unison that night: “We are the Hawks, the mighty, mighty Hopi Hawks.”
After the ceremony, attendees were welcome to take a tour of the new campus and check out all that’s new about Hopi.
Construction of the new campus started in November 2017 and was completed in January of this year. Core Construction was at the head of the project. With completion, there is now a full-size gym with six adjustable basketball hoops, a new kitchen and cafeteria, a multi-level amphitheater, three new playground areas, a soccer and baseball field, new drop-off and pick-up lanes to reduce traffic on Lafayette and three new parking lots with added parking spaces.
The original Hopi signage from the front of the previous campus now adorns the library. Brick pavers from the old building are now used as planters around the school as well as adorning the planter for the American flag that is situated near the front office building.
Hopi has also increased security with ornamental fencing, a front office ‘lockdown’ button and security cameras. There is also new technology in all classrooms such as SMART boards, new FM voice amplification systems and a classroom intercom enabling two-way communication with the office, so if there is a classroom emergency, teachers can press a button to contact the office instead of having to use the phone.
Jagodzinski says most of the students’ favorite part of the new campus is the gym, as well as a few other reinvented spaces. “Most classes said that they love their new classrooms, the pods and the new playground…and that the classrooms were inside. One child said how much she loved ‘How modern the new school is.’ And they all love the water bottle refill stations,” Jagodzinski said.
With all the updates at the campus, Jagodzinski expects Hopi will continue as an exciting place to be for staff, parents and students, with events like Java with Mrs. J, Hopi Variety Show, Hawktion and Hullabaloo. “Even though the buildings are new, everything that makes Hopi special will remain the same.”
Some signature Hopi memories preserved
There are bound to be some memories lost to the wrecking ball and bulldozers when a school is razed and rebuilt. At Hopi, the tiles that adorned the campus represent hundreds of memories from families and students reaching back decades. The bulk of the tiles were saved, and are now on display throughout the interior of the buildings. Some of the tiles that were installed into grout and adhered to the auditorium building are being saved for future projects.