Piece by piece, every
chair, desk and file cabinet was taken out of Fort Riley Middle School and
moved next door to the new middle school building May 27.
Soldiers with the 1st
Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st
Infantry Division worked with GCA, the maintenance contractor for Unified
School District 475 Geary County Schools, to get the move completed in one day.
In all, 56 Soldiers and 20
GCA employees made quick work of the move. By the time they were ready for a
lunch break, USD 475 Director of Operations Bill Clark said everything was on
track and going smooth.
“Moves like this don’t
happen unless you have good partnerships and cooperations,” he said, watching
as room by room was emptied out of the old school.
Everything that wasn’t
going to be used in the new school was removed. Some of the items that could be
reused – but not in the new school – were offered to private schools in the
area. Everything else will remain in the school and be part of its demolition.
Before it was too late,
some former staff members made a walk through for posterity’s sake, remembering
days gone by. Clark said one former teacher came back to get a light cover he
had painted with a Jayhawk many years ago. Joe Handlos, principal, FRMS, also
walked the halls and reflected on his 37 years working in the building.
“It’s just a structure,” he
said. “It’s not the structure you remember, it’s the people.”
Still, he marveled at just how
quickly change happens.
“Just last week, we had
students here, we had staff here — now ... ,” he said, his voice trailing off
as he surveyed a cafeteria and hallways.
When all phases of the new school
are complete, the cafeteria will be where the new parking lot is and Handlos’s
office is right about where the starting line of the new track will be.
Halfway through moving day,
lunch was provided, and “Hamilton’s Own” was awarded USD 475’s Shining Star
“We have a tradition in USD
475 to recognize staff who have provided outstanding service — not just for a moment,
but for a long time,” Handlos said, as he made the presentation to Sgt. 1st
Class Erika Bonner-Sims, 1st Bn., 5th FA Regt. “Hamilton’s Own has been a part
of (FRMS) for a long time.”
The Soldiers from the unit are
partners with the school and participate in activities throughout the year.
Pfc. Samuel Green, 1st Bn.,
5th FA Regt., compared the work he was doing with “helping a friend move.”
“Just like (the school)
supports us, we support them,” he said.
Mixed in with the military uniforms
were the blue shirts of GCA. Brady Deville, director of operations, GCA, said
at midday the move was right on schedule, maybe even a little ahead, which would
not have been possible without the Soldiers’ help.
“If it wasn’t for them
being here, we wouldn’t get it done today,” he said.
He also credited the
efficient moving plan. Everything coming out of the old school was brought out
in a coordinated fashion and had a specific place to go in the new building.
FRMS students were released for the summer two days
earlier than the rest of the district, which gave staff members time to box up
their classrooms and label everything so the unpacking will go seamlessly. When
they arrive for the new school year, they will be arriving to a $39-million, 176,077-square-foot
building with 64 classrooms, and the capacity for 800 students.