FORT RILEY, Kan. (Sept. 18, 2012) -- "Today, we dedicate our newest and most modern school in honor of a patriot," said Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie, senior commander, Fort Riley.

The dedication of the new Seitz Elementary School took place Sept. 14, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the new building as a tribute to retired Lt. Gen. Richard Seitz, from Junction City. Seitz was chosen for his commitment and support to the education of all Unified District 475 Geary County Schools students.

"I am deeply conscious of the honor which is mine and having this magnificent school bear my name. It's more than I deserve," Seitz said.

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 also was the youngest infantry battalion commander in World War II. He retired in 1975 at Fort Bragg, N.C.

"I think it's really befitting to name it after a great Soldier, a great statesman and somebody who obviously -- you can tell by his remarks -- believes deeply in education; and the involvement that he's had, so I think that's a wonderful thing," said Under Secretary of the Army Joseph Westphal.

The construction of the new elementary school was funded by Congress through a partnership with the USD 475 and Picerne Military Housing.

Picerne was the developer on the project that was funded through the Residential Communities Initiatives. This is the first time the partnership between Picerne and RCI has been used to build a school, which expedited the building process and allowed the school to open sooner.

"It is a great moment for all of us -- an opportunity for the federal government, the state government and the local government, the school district and the garrison -- all coming together to share this wonderful new asset for the Army and for our families," Westphal said.

More than 670 students are currently enrolled in the school, which opened its doors for staff Aug. 9.

The new school has many modern features including:

• autism suites
• specially constructed-Federal Emergency Management Agency certified gymnasium that can be used as a tornado shelter
• 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
• direct line of vision to the exterior in 90 percent of all occupied spaces
• Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certifiable, green-energy building
• meets all of the anti-terrorism and force protection design components required by Fort Riley

"Our kids are going to enjoy a very modern, very high level of environmental sustainability in school," Westphal said.

The teachers and principal of the new school are the ones who will truly make the difference, Seitz said.

"They are the ones who will distinguish the school, not me, not the name Seitz, but Principal (Samrie) Devin and her distinguished teachers," he said.