FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 27, 2018) - Faculty, staff, students, and guests celebrated the grand opening of E. A. White Elementary School at its new location at Sand Hill at Fort Benning, Georgia, Sept. 26.
The new facility primarily serves the Families of military service members who live at Patton Village at Fort Benning.
"Patton Village is right here to our south, we've got Sand Hill just over to the east, and that village and Sand Hill have one cantonment here," said Col. Clinton W. Cox, the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Benning commander. "It's where the finest men and women in the United States Army live and work: our noncommissioned officers. They are the foundation of what we do each and every day. And this great school is here to take care of their children."
As part of the outdoor ceremony, the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band Brass Quintet played the national anthem and more, the Silver Wings of the 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, parachuted into the ceremony, and students of the fifth grade sang.
The school opened Aug. 6, and the students, teachers and staff have had more than a month in the school. The building is 109,390 square feet and hosts 600 students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
Rather than the traditional classroom layout, children learn in "neighborhoods" arranged by grade, where a few class spaces share a common area and are separated from each other by optional partitions, letting the the teachers and students of different classes collaborate with one another. The teachers, according to the school's administrators, have been adjusting to this new way of teaching and learning.
"For the first month of school, we literally opened everything up," said Dr. Renee Mallory, the school's principal, speaking specifically about the partitions that separate the class areas. "This environment, you really have to just jump in the water. It's worked out really well. Some teams are moving faster than others, and that's to be expected."
"It is new to the staff as well," said Dr. Todd Carver, the school's vice principal. "When teachers go through their training and go through their programs, co-teaching and co-planning are not generally taught. Teachers aren't necessarily groomed that way. In this aspect, they're learning not only to plan lessons together but to teach lessons together."
In addition to incorporating 21st century learning methods into the architecture of the building, the school is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified facility, which means it the lighting, heating and environmental controls meet certain energy efficiency standards.
Other features of the building and grounds include a learning garden for promoting life science education, solar panels for heating water, a wind turbine, an energy dashboard for monitoring utility use, and three outdoor amphitheaters, at one of which the grand opening ceremony took place.
Besides Cox, distinguished visitors who spoke during the event included school officials and leadership of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Americas Southeast District. Dr. Lisa Coleman, the Georgia / Alabama superintendent for the DoDEA Americas Southeast District welcomed the distinguished visitors. Dr. Judith Minor, the director of Student Excellence for DoDEA Americas spoke about the legacy of 1st Lt. Edward Ansel White, the school's namesake who died during the Korean War.
"This is more than a ribbon cutting," said Mallory. "This is a rededication of our building to Lt. Edward A. Wright. He was an American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice to his country."
White was born in Plattsburg, New York, but, as the son of an Army officer, had lived and attended grade school at Fort Benning from 1937 to 1939. When he graduated, he studied at Georgia Institute of Technology, and he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduating there and commissioning as a second lieutenant in 1948. He graduated from Ground General School at Fort Riley, Kansas, and attended the Infantry School at Fort Benning. He deployed to Korea with F Company, 5th Cavalry Regiment, in 1950. He was killed in action while leading his men, and the Army posthumously awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross for valiant conduct.
Lucy White Rasco, White's niece, and her husband retired Col. William Rasco came from San Antonio to attend the ceremony.
After the ceremony, the students returned to their neighborhoods, and a reception was held. The guests toured the school afterwards.
To see photos from the event, visit "PHOTO ALBUM" in the "Related Links" section on this page.