By Rob Patin
Allegan Public Schools Communications Director
Allegan Public Schools Superintendent James Antoine is excited to welcome the community to a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, October 13 to kick off the construction of the district’s new elementary building.
“The ceremony is meant to be a celebration and an acknowledgement of the work that has gone into the project thus far,” Antoine said. “We want to say thank you to the community for supporting the bond, and we want to involve our students so that they can get excited.”
The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. and will take place on the southwest field at the back of the L.E. White Middle School property. Antoine said it was important to get the community close to the construction site to see that some initial ground clearing has already begun. “We want them to start to imagine what the space and building will look like as it’s nestled into the woods,” Antoine said. “It will be beautiful.”
A snack will be provided at the ceremony, and children will be given a commemorative Allegan Public Schools hard hat. The ceremony takes place on the same night of the district’s Community on Deck for Education “C.O.D.E. Orange” football game.
“We chose purposefully to have it the same night of the C.O.D.E. Orange game so that we can make a beautiful Allegan event out of it,” Antoine said. “After the groundbreaking ceremony, we’ll head over to the tailgate and then to the football game to enjoy the C.O.D.E. Orange festivities. It will make for a great fall night in Allegan.”
The approximately $58 million elementary building will be what Antoine describes as the “crown jewel” of the bond proposal that was passed by district voters in May 2021. Since that time, L.E. White Middle School has undergone an extensive renovation, a new tennis facility has been built, and other much-needed work–including building safety infrastructure, parking lots, signage, and more–have come to fruition.
The improvements across the district have Antoine brimming with pride. “Refreshing the middle school spaces has brought tremendous energy to the building,” he said. “I love visiting that building.” He is equally proud of the new tennis facility. “Those tennis courts are also very special,” he said. “The manner in which they were constructed means they will last a long time.”
But now the focus will shift to a project that has been in the planning stages for over two years. “It’s been a journey to design this building to meet our needs,” he said. “It has been designed in collaboration with many, many teachers in their areas of specialty, and that was a lot of fun. The fact that the time has arrived to start building it is beyond exciting,” Antoine said. “To take all of these ideas off of the page in the renderings and to see them come to life is just going to be such an enjoyable process for me and the community.”