JUNCTION CITY, Kan. -- Fort Riley's new elementary school has a name.
"LTG Richard J. Seitz Elementary School" was unanimously approved by Unified School District 475 Geary County Schools Board of Education Jan. 9 during its monthly meeting.
"(Retired Lt.) Gen. Seitz was chosen because of his commitment and steadfast support to the education of all Geary County students, and we are honored to be able use his name," the district said in a press release.
USD 475 Geary County Schools superintendent Ronald Walker said the passion for naming the school after Seitz was found in his history.
"(Retired Lt.) Gen. Seitz is one of the great scholars of our time. He is very intelligent, but humble. He has the ability to lead large brigades into battle, or he is equally comfortable following orders. His character and his spirit represent everything good about humankind. He is the role model we want all our students and staff honor," Walker said.
Seitz has been a very active supporter of Geary County schools, Walker said, recalling he has visited many of the schools to offer his time and talent to discuss leadership, past experiences and views of the world. He often stops by just to say, "hello" to staff and students, Walker said.
"He never misses an opportunity to recite the district's accomplishments to young officers, enlisted or any Soldier for that matter. (Retired Lt.) Gen. Seitz can be heard many times telling anyone within listening distance that Geary County is the best (school) district in the State," Walker said. "He enjoys interacting with our school district and our students. I can honestly say (retired Lt.) Gen. Seitz is our number one fan."
Seitz, who had a 35-year career as an Army officer and paratrooper, commanded the 2nd Battalion, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II, the 82nd Airborne Division and the XVIII Airborne Corps. He retired in 1975 at Fort Bragg, N.C.
His military awards, decorations and civilian citations include: the Silver Star, the Distinguished Service Medal -- third award, Legion of Merit -- second award, Bronze Star -- second award, Air Medal, Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
Seitz said he was on a trip to Florida when he first heard of his nomination by the district when Maj. Gen. William Mayville, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general, informed him of the school board's vote.
"I am deeply conscious of the era that is mine, and I really am honored that they decided to have this great, great building in my name. That is beyond words," Seitz said. "I've been an advocate of education, especially teachers, all my adult life, and I realize how important the teachers are. They're the ones that will distinguish that school -- not my name."
As a Leavenworth, Kan., native and a lifetime supporter of Geary County schools, Seitz has worked on school bonds for the construction of Junction City Middle School and other elementary schools in the district.
He said the energy-efficient design of the new elementary school and the construction of the gymnasium will serve the students and staff well.
"The gymnasium is able to accommodate the strongest forces of a tornado and is able to provide a shelter for the school," he said.
USD 475's 15th elementary school is located in the Camp Forsyth area of Fort Riley and will feature:
• Collaboration area for students to gather and learn together
• Special art and sciences room
• Room for parent volunteers
• Specially constructed-Federal Emergency Management Agency certified gymnasium
• Open space around the building
• Bicycle racks and a shower to encourage students and faculty to bike to school
• White-reflective roof used to reflect radiant sun rays, decreasing the air-conditioning load
• Rain water collection from the roof into underground tanks used to flush toilets and provide water for cooling tower
• Collection point for recyclable materials
• Occupancy sensors in classrooms to shut off lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning when unoccupied
• Operable vents on windows for natural ventilation
• Direct line of vision to the exterior in 90 percent of all occupied spaces
The school also will be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certifiable, green-energy building and will meet all of the anti-terrorism and force protection design components required by Fort Riley.
Samrie Devin, who grew up in the Camp Forsyth area and has been a principal in Geary County schools for the last 10 years, has been named the principal of Seitz Elementary School.
Seitz emphasized the thing that impressed him the most is the selection of the principal for the school.
"She's a proven administrator, having been principal at two schools, a master teacher and a dedicated leader, but she also brings a personal background. She was raised at Fort Riley and attended a school there … really a dynamic leader," Seitz said.
Devin and Seitz have already spoken about his involvement in the school, Seitz said, noting he will do everything the principal asks him to do.
Pictures of Seitz will be posted throughout the school in the principal's office, library and commons area, Walker said. The outside of the building also will bear his name.
Walker said there will be a dedication ceremony and open house to honor Seitz when construction is complete. The date has not been finalized yet, but the school district will work with Fort Riley and Seitz, Walker said.
"We enjoy working with garrison on projects like this and will want to make sure Fort Riley and the school board work closely together on ceremonies … the cooperative work between Fort Riley and USD 475 will be a true testament as we both honor this great warrior," Walker said.
The school is scheduled to open in fall 2012.