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.
SUN PHOTO/MAGGIE FIELD
Dalton Hicks led the Cub Scout honor guard.
"Judging from the music Im hearing,
youre in a lot better mood than you were the last
time we were out here three years ago," he said, drawing
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.