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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ruth Moyer Elementary Breaks Ground on Renovation (11-10-15)

Ruth Moyer Students break the first ground at Ruth Moyer School as Superintendent, Gene Kirchner, looks on. FTM file. 
A groundbreaking ceremony was held yesterdayWednesday, November 10 on the front lawn of Ruth Moyer Elementary. Guests included local lawmakers, members of the Fort Thomas School Boards and Education Foundations, construction staff and local leaders. Each student received a yellow hardhat to commemorate the occasion as many parents looked on.

A few "did-you-knows" about Ruth Moyer, given by a presentation by students.

Ruth Moyer Elementary School was built in 1930, and was originally named Central School because it was centrally located in town. In 1931, the school was renamed to honor Ruth Moyer, a beloved teacher and the first principal of the school.

Ruth Moyer. Kenton County Public Library. 
John Alexander was the longest tenured principal at the school, staying at the helm for 20 years (1968-1988).

Ruth Moyer is  a school of traditions, some still stand while others have faded. The May Day celebration was quite an event at Moyer with games and dances and even a May king and queen, but it is no longer practiced. The annual Kindergarten Circus originally began in 1934 with Jackie Thompson as the first ringmaster. Although the circus stopped sometime in the 1950s, it was brought back in the 1970s and continues to be a yearly favorite.

Greg Frank and 6th grade class outside Ruth Moyer Elementary School on 10-15-75. Kenton County Public Library. 

Santa House is the biggest fundraiser for the school. This year, it'll be held at the armory (link). 

Principal, Dawn Laber, kicked off the joyous event, saying that this is a big day for Moyer and the community. Her excitement shined through.

Moyer Principal, Dawn Laber. FTM file. 
Fort Thomas Independent Schools unveiled a two-year plan February 25 to renovate and rebuild Moyer. The Kentucky School Facilities Construction Commission pledged to pay the bulk of the estimated $20 million cost in September 2014.

Construction on a new 550-student capacity Moyer will take two years to finish. Enrollment increased from 450 in 2011 to 518 in the fall of 2014, which according to Kirchner, moved Moyer ahead of Johnson in terms of renovation need.

Students in upper grades at Moyer will be in 12 temporary mobile classrooms as the 1970s wing is demolished and the 1950s section is rebuilt. Students in preschool and K-2 in the 1930s part of the building will be moved in 2016 when renovations.

The theme of the day was that the money secured to renovate Fort Thomas' largest-by-population elementary school, could not have been done without the support of the community, the work of local stakeholders and the lobbying of local officials.

State Senator, Wil Schroder, who represents Fort Thomas in Frankfort was on-hand to see the festivities. "My predecessor, Senator Katie Stine, deserves all of the credit for the funding of this project.  I look forward to continuing her legacy and working hard to bring money back to the district," he said.

Superintendent, Gene Kirchner, agreed.

Superintendent, Gene Kirchner. FTM file. 
"This is happening because of the work of a small group of people who made things happen in Frankfort so that our state legislature would appropriate the funds necessary to make this school a possibility," he said. "I'm fortunate to be the superintendent in the best school district in the state of Kentucky, but I'm also excited to work for the best Board of Education in the state of the Kentucky."

Kirchner said that when he came to Fort Thomas in the midst of trying to complete the Highlands renovation, he thought a renovation of Moyer and Johnson were a long way off. 

"Quite frankly Moyer and Johnson were really just dreams. We knew they needed to be done, but it seemed so far down the road and it seemed beyond the realm of possibility. Yet we stand here today ready to put shovels in the ground and give a whole new life to this wonderful school," he said.

Stine, who attended Ruth Moyer as a kindergartner through sixth grade, addressed the students adorned in hard hats.
Moyer students gather for the groundbreaking ceremony. FTM file.  
"I never thought that when I was a kindergartner sitting on the front lawn watching the big kids do the maypole dance, or then later when I got to be one of the crossing guards, that I'd go on to be a Senator," she said. "This is a place where lives change as your lives are changing. You are learning all kinds of important things and we all have a role to play,  to make sure that this school and this city are the best."

Stine talked about her time in the Kentucky State Senate, and stated the toughest part about bringing money back to Fort Thomas was convincing other lawmakers that Fort Thomas has needs as a community as well.

She talked about a trip to Fort Thomas, where she brought Senate President, Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) to see her stomping grounds. She said that he told her that Fort Thomas reminded him of his hometown.

"When we get to go to Frankfort, we fight to bring your money back to you. How crazy is that? But that's how it works. When we were working on all those budgets, we had a real fight to get the money for Woodfill. The folks in Frankfort think 'well those people in Fort Thomas, they all do so great in sports and they do great in academics and leading the way, their roads must be paved with gold,'" she said.

Stine praised the support of the local community to make things happen, but conceded that while Fort Thomas has a new school in Woodfill and soon-to-be new school in Moyer, the work wasn't done. She then brought up Schroder and Rep. Joe Fischer to present them budget language to have them work to bring money back to renovate Johnson Elementary, an annual candidate for renovation in terms of need throughout the state.
Sen. Wil Schroder, Sen. Katie Stine and Rep. Joe Fischer on the front steps at Moyer Elementary. FTM file. 

"The job is almost complete. There's just one more school in Fort Thomas that needs some help," she said, alluding to Johnson Elementary on the north end of the city.

Board of Education Chair, Karen Allen, noted that while the renovation is a positive for the schools and community, there would be some challenges to deal with.

"In the last decade we've done an amazing job with our facilities. These next 30 months are going to be challenging. Not only for the students and staff, but for our neighbors and community. It's going to require us to have a lot of patience, but in the long run it's really going to pay off," she said. "We are going to have an amazing school and I'm so excited to be apart of it. I really believe with all of us working together that we are living our vision, which is that we are rich in tradition and focused on the future."

Kirchner briefly touched on the construction process as he introduced some project leaders to the crowd. Joe and Evan Hayes, architects: "wait till you see what happens on this campus as a result of their design work." Bob Heil: "all of these projects are supported by the work of KHL Engineers. They are always need when we need them." Morrel Construction: "They are top notch, the best. Matt and Adolph happen to have children in this school, which gives them a vested interest."

The ceremony wouldn't be complete without the folksy words of encouragement from Stine to the students surrounding her.

"Work hard, make good choices, say no to illegal drugs and things you know you shouldn't do. Hang out with the eagles, not the chickens. And make sure that you make your parents and your neighbors in this community proud of you because you're going to have a very cool place to go to school. And parents and family, the fact that you're even here standing in the cold says volumes about you and this community and how much we value education."

FTM file. 
FTM file. 

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful history! Thanks for sharing FTM!!