QUINCY -- Delores Ringenberg took a guided tour of the new Sarah Atwater Denman Elementary School thanks to her great-niece, fourth-grader Aubrey Agrimonti.
"I'm very impressed, and I'm glad Quincy is very school-oriented for the children," Ringenberg said. "Quincy is so dedicated to help the kids, and kids are the future of the city."
Quincy Public Schools dedicated Denman School, its fifth and final new K-5 elementary building, on Saturday morning, taking time to celebrate, say thank you and look back at a project designed to change the future of education in the community.
"As we gather to celebrate the opening of this beautiful elementary school, we're also celebrating the conclusion of a journey started five years ago," School Board member Richard McNay said.
A suggestion made in summer 2013 to move ninth-graders from the junior high to the high school and possibly build a new grade school or two grew into a plan to build five new elementary schools and an addition to the high school approved by voters in November 2014. Hundreds of meetings, thousands of emails later and tens of thousands of decisions later, the project "was finished on time and within budget," McNay said to applause.
"What a great day. It's an exciting time for Quincy Public Schools. I enjoy being a part of that and seeing all the progress," Denman secretary Mary Foster said.
Superintendent Roy Webb said what Quincy has done over the last two years, to shift students and staff into the five new elementary buildings, is unheard of -- but possible thanks to the community's support.
"You said education was a priority and our kids were a priority," Webb said.
Kids like Aubrey and fourth-grader Parker Meyer were eager to show off their school to the community.
"It's exciting because it's a new school and it's good," Parker said. "It's a ginormous building compared to what I'm used to."
It's also a building named for Denman, who made a lasting impact on Quincy through her passion for learning and ?inspiring and empowering others.
"I think it's amazing we have a school named after Sarah who contributed so much to this community and was engaged throughout her life in possibilities from cultivating education and the life of the mind," said Martha Rapp, first vice president of Friends in Council, the oldest continuing women's study group in the United States, launched by Denman in 1866.
Julie Peter walked through the school with her daughter Ili Wigfall, who was one of several Denman students helping lead the dedication ceremonies.
"The building's great, but also looking at the bigger picture of the building and more diversity in school, it's just going to be a good opportunity for kids to learn and lead and grow," Peter said.
"This is just a great day for all of us to celebrate Denman Elementary School," Principal Chrissy Cox said. "Our building is going to be a place where friendships grow, leaders are inspired and everyone dreams of spreading their wings to fly."