The district will celebrate the re-opening of the school with a ceremony tonight, Aug. 21.
Jenny Trunfio’s three children attended Townsend Elementary School before it closed for renovations in 2012. As the school is set to re-open this month, only one of them, Gabriel, will be going back as a fourth grader to experience Townsend in new ways.
“It’s a huge difference. You can see the brighter walls, bigger spaces, the technology, but it still has that old town charm we love in our community school,” said Trunfio who attended the school’s “Sneak Peek” in June. “We’re all very excited to have it re-open.”
According to historical records annotated by Townsend teacher Dorothy Burkley, the school was built in 1932 with only six classrooms, a library, an auditorium and stage, and a kitchen. Through the decades the school was expanded to the 51,655 square foot facility it is today, but it was in dire need of repairs and upgrades, according school officials.
The $5.9 million project was funded with state and local tax dollars.
Some of the renovations that the school needed included, a new handicap ramp for its entrance, renovations for the library, a new gym, new wall and floor tiles, new walls, ceilings and fixtures, a new nurses’ exam room, a new parent reception area, and renovated classrooms including new casework, storage, desks, and chairs.
Townsend Elementary was also equipped with the latest technology – SmartBoards, student and teacher computers, and document cameras in every classroom.
“We supplied it with more technology than any other school,” said Townsend Elementary School Principal Don Davis. “With the way the world is changing, kids need to have access to the most updated and best information.”
While the school was being renovated, some 280 students from Townsend Elementary had to temporarily go to Old State Elementary, a much bigger school attended by about 800 children.
Townsend Elementary was scheduled to re-open in 2013, but the school district kept the school closed an additional year to save about $2 million in operating costs.
“It was something that we needed to do. At the same time it gave us additional time to do more renovations to the building,” said Norm Abrams, the president of the Appoquinimink School District School Board. “Everything had to be updated including the heating and air-conditioning. It was a complete makeover to the school.”
Townsend Elementary has been an important fixture on Main Street and residents are eager to see the kids back at the school, added Davis. The school is the only public institution operating in the town. Many residents, their children, and grandchildren attended the school at some point in time.
“The school is the heart of the community and the community is the heart of the school,” said Trunfio.
Officials with the school district say they are grateful to the residents of Townsend for their understanding during the renovation period.
“We greatly appreciate the patience that the staff and parents had as Townsend Elementary was made into a state of the art building,” said Appoquinimink Superintendent Matthew Burrows. “We are excited about the improvements that the community has supported us in making to Townsend Elementary. We look to build on the proud tradition of Townsend Elementary.”
A re-opening ceremony is scheduled at the school this evening, Aug. 21, at 6 p.m. The event will be attended by town officials, school district administrators and Townsend teachers, parents, and students. Residents are also welcome to attend and check out the school, said Davis.