Vol 6 No. 32 - May 3, 2006

Dedication draws dignitaries and crowd
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – As many as 500 people crowded into the auditorium at Anna Maria Elementary School Monday evening to open the door to a brand new era.

Members of the Manatee County School Board joined Superintendent Dr. Roger Dearing to speak at the dedication ceremony.

Many of them spoke of the problems that occurred along the way as the board embarked on replacing the 50-year-old buildings on the campus. The most significant issue was the public backlash caused when construction crews tore down some oak trees about three years ago, causing the board to form a committee to monitor the project and work out problems.

After watching a video that highlighted the demolition of the old building and construction of the new one and listening to music as the students marched into the auditorium single file, school board member Frank Brunner summed up the mood of the people.

Dalton Hicks led the Cub Scout honor guard.
"Judging from the music I’m hearing, you’re in a lot better mood than you were the last time we were out here three years ago," he said, drawing laughter.

Brunner said after all the discussion to iron things out, the board asked Island residents to take a great leap of faith to believe that they could build a great school to serve the community – and they did.

Principal Kathy Hayes introduced Dearing as a knight in shining armor as tensions worsened over the tree problem. Dearing recalled that the controversy erupted six days after he started as school superintendent.

After the dignitaries spoke, the students performed "Light of the Candles" and they re-assembled at the flagpole to raise the American flag for the first time with members of Cub Scout Pack 7, led by Dalton Hicks. Then it was on to the front door of the new building, where Hayes and Dearing cut the ribbon and invited everyone in for tours and snacks.


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