By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 10, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Summer vacation is officially over on Fort Rucker as students made their way back to school Aug. 2, but things are a little different for elementary school students as they tackle the new school year.
Although the back-to-school day was typical for Fort Rucker Primary School students, Fort Rucker Elementary School students were settling into their new, temporary school, The Village, and even though parents and teachers had to learn to navigate a new morning routine, things couldn't have gone any better, according to Dr. Vicki Gilmer, principal of Fort Rucker Schools.
"I think this year's back-to-school was amazing," she said. "I am very grateful to the parents of all our students. Car rider and bus information was distributed, and everyone has been terrific at following set procedures.
"Parents and students were excited and happy to be back … and we had extraordinary, positive feedback from both students and parents," she added. "At the primary school, I also felt that excitement in the air as young students came in eager to start school."
The challenge of the morning was making sure traffic ran smoothly as people came to drop their children off at the new location, and with eight school busses running instead of the usual three, some delays were expected, but everything went off without a hitch, said Gilmer.
Becky Tindall, military spouse, said that she was surprised at how efficient the process was given that it was the first day in the new facility.
"We got up extra early this morning because we were fully expecting a line of cars to drop the kids off today, but when we got here we were really surprised at how smoothly everything was operating," she said. "I think things went really well and they did a really good job of getting everyone in."
Parents were also impressed with the facility itself, which houses grades three through six, and features a full gym, outdoor play area, media center and cafeteria.
"When we came [for the Sneek-a-Peek] we were really surprised at how well put together the school is," said Daniel Graves, military spouse. "From the outside it might look like a temporary school, but once you get inside it's like a real school with hallways and lockers and everything -- it's really nice.
"It's always a bit nerve-racking when dropping the kids off for the first day of school," she added. "You get used to having your kids around for the summer, then it's back to the daily school routine, but knowing that the children are so well taken care of makes it a lot easier. I know they always do a great job of taking care of our kids."
Although the site is temporary, Gilmer stressed that quality will not be sacrificed when it comes to the education of children on Fort Rucker.
"The transition to The Village has been overwhelmingly impressive," said the school principal. "I am so pleased with the high-quality facility and all the safety features it includes.
"This has given us the opportunity to really put all our efforts into our students' success," she continued. "Our focus has been able to remain on the students and delivering the best opportunities imaginable."
During the school day, Gilmer and the faculty were presented a commemorative plaque by Col. Brian E. Walsh, Fort Rucker garrison commander, Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher D. Spivey, garrison command sergeant major, and Dr. Beverly K. Joiner, deputy to the garrison commander, featuring the school mascot from the old facility as a reminder of where they've been and where they are going in the future.
"We wanted to come in and thank the faculty and staff for all the hard work that they did to get us here from the old school," said Walsh. "You've done an outstanding job from making the transition from the old school to this facility a seamless one. It's a testament to your awesomeness that there was no traffic this morning, so great work.
"To Dr. Gilmer, we know that you probably haven't had a day off this summer, and we want you to know that we appreciate your leadership and dedication. We know no matter what building we're in, we're going to get excellence from you," he continued. "To the faculty and staff around the room, we truly appreciate you. It symbolizes not only where you've been -- the great accomplishments and memories that were made at the old school -- but, moreover, it symbolizes a bright future as you embark on this journey that will eventually lead to a more modern, 21st-century facility, so the garrison team and I thank you."