Students from Pinetree Community School lined up with excitement for the ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday morning, as four new elements of the school are finally open: a student support center, a 12-classroom wing, a two-classroom wing and two inclusive playgrounds.
Special guests were greeted by the door, where sixth-grade students from the student council walked each person to the designated seating, followed by a tour of the new buildings after the ceremony.
In addition, students performed a couple of songs: Tracy Passerelle’s second-grade class performed the song “Grit,” while “Over My Head” was performed by Pinetree choir students.
The construction, which started in 2018, was funded by Measure CK, a 2012 ballot measure approved by voters in the Sulphur Springs Union School District to upgrade school infrastructure and help keep resources up to date with 21st-century technological and learning standards.
According to the Sulphur Springs district website, “Measure CK will address several key areas to upgrade and repair school facilities and help support the quality academic programs Sulphur Springs’ schools provide to local students. Classrooms, science and computer labs and our schools’ technology need updating to ensure we can provide 21st-century instruction.”
Sulphur Springs Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi led the ceremony, thanking the attendees, as well as acknowledging the start of a new, more-inclusive learning environment for all Pinetree students.
“I want to take a few moments and thank all of you for coming to join us in celebrating the opening of our new facilities and our new playgrounds. It’s very exciting that we’re opening the sixth and seventh inclusive playground in the Sulphur Springs Union School District,” Kawaguchi said. “The playground incorporates all the principles for inclusive play, and the playgrounds are built to ensure that no child is excluded from play time, and that there’s sensory activities designed on the structure to stimulate and ensure that all the children’s senses are being tapped into.”
Taking pride in allowing every student to enjoy the resources, Kawaguchi also thanked teachers who endured the construction and were patient during the past five years.
Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs recognized the Measure CK project on behalf of the city of Santa Clarita.
“It is my honor to be here. Honestly, kids, when you see these things, when you see the inclusive playgrounds, the expanded parks, these are for you,” Gibbs said. “This is your parents and your administrators who are working hard to give you opportunities to continue to grow, continue to learn, continue to enjoy your time here at school, to do these amazing things.”
In addition to Gibbs asking the children to enjoy the new amenities, the presentation of certificates from elected officials resulted in a secret competition to see who could receive the loudest “good morning” back from the students.
The students selected to be a part of the ribbon cutting were TK student Kara Brutz, 4, and fourth grader Alexa Silva, 9.
Pinetree Principal Stephanie Cruz, who has held the position since 2019, discussed the new chapter the finished project opens.
“My entire principalship has been this amazing construction and actually seeing the building of the new building, the new classroom building, the new support center, the renovation of our office, the new playgrounds, it has just been outstanding to get to be part of this,” Cruz said. “It’s been neat for the kids to get to watch it come to be and come into existence, and now getting the children on to our new inclusive playgrounds is just a joy to watch.”
While five years of construction poses challenges for an elementary school, not just for the students, but staff, it is worth it. Calling the playgrounds Green Machine and Little Greenie, the kids began to get excited when the elements of the playgrounds slowly showed.
“We knew the light at the end of the tunnel was when the kids began to start seeing the green and the playground coming to be,” Cruz said. “It was just a lot of noise and a lot of things happening, and they couldn’t see the end. When it started to become real to them was when the playgrounds became physical, and they could see things.”