It was a countdown worthy of a trip to the stars:
“…three, two, one! Open the door!”
That was the cry from dozens of students and parents gathered outside Wiregrass Elementary off Mansfield Blvd. in Wesley Chapel on its opening day.
Principal Steve Williams obliged the crowd by pushing open the heavy gate and quickly stepping aside, as the surge of youthful humanity streamed in, bringing what had been simply a new school building to life. The scene was captured by a Pasco County School District photographer who posted the video, entitled “Wiregrass Elementary School — First Day,” on the school district’s official YouTube channel.
The significance of a new school’s grand opening was central to the message Williams relayed to the world via the same YouTube video.
“You know, when you build a school, there’s only one chance to have a Day One, and today has been fantastic,” Williams said. “I love to see a brand new school and today has been worth all the hard work that we’ve put into making Wiregrass Elementary.”
Pasco County School District superintendent of schools Kurt Browning was on hand for the big event and likewise went in front of the camera to express satisfaction about the new school’s opening, as well as optimism about its role in the community.
“We’re excited about Wiregrass Elementary School,” Browning said. “It got off to a great start this morning and we’re happy for this community to be able to provide this school.”
The school is located about a mile south of S.R. 56, and opened with just over 500 students enrolled.
With a capacity of 800 students, there’s room to accommodate future growth, as developers build more houses in the Wiregrass Ranch Development of Regional Impact (DRI) nearby and families move into them. Like nearby Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH), Wiregrass Elementary is named after the Porter family’s Wiregrass Ranch, which is helping drive a lot of residential growth in Wesley Chapel. Also like WRH, the new elementary school’s mascot is a bull.
Technology & More
Befitting a new school of the digital age, the classrooms at Wiregrass Elementary have been outfitted with some of the latest technology, such as 3-D computing stations, Apple TVs, iPads and MacBooks.
Williams kept his Wiregrass Bulls and their families updated during the school’s construction via the district’s YouTube channel. In his debut video, “Building Something Amazing,” Williams dons a hardhat and sports a fluorescent lime green safety vest over his collared shirt and tie to connect building a school with developing young minds.
“There’s a tremendous metaphor of building a school and building a learner,” Williams said.
In the video, Williams extended the metaphor by explaining how families and the community form the foundation for learning and that using the right educational tools for each student is important. For example, doors can open up opportunities for growth and success, and stairs are for overcoming challenges and reaching the top.
“Our expectation is that this is going to be a very progressive and exciting school,” Williams said. “This is the kind of school where the community will want their kids to go because of the amazing outcomes that (will be) coming out of this school.”
You can see the videos mentioned in this story and other official Pasco County School District videos on the school district’s official YouTube channel. To learn more about Wiregrass Elementary, visit the school at 29732 Wiregrass School Rd. in Wesley Chapel, go online at WRES.Pasco.k12.fl.us, or call 346-0700.