College Hill Elementary ready to welcome students home

By: Jordan Shefte Email
By: Jordan Shefte Email

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WICHITA, Kan. Parents and students will get their first look inside the renovated College Hill Elementary tonight. There are still some last minute fixes to make and boxes to throw away, but this school has come a long way in a year.

"It's been a journey and we're tired, but we're ready for the normal chaos of an elementary school," said Principal Kathleen Patterson.

It was just days before the start of school last year when an electrical fire burned College Hill Elementary. Since that time, there's been a lot of changes.

Some of the walls in the school used to be temporary and movable, letting a lot of noise through. Now, they're permanent and solid, keeping the sound inside the classrooms.

Of course, there is new carpet, flooring and paint, but the school is also welcoming improvements like the newest versions of smart boards and a new, energy efficient HVAC system. But getting the building ready hasn't been an easy process.

"To come in and see the boxes piled floor to ceiling, rows and rows, furniture, was a little bit overwhelming," said Pre-K Teacher Camille Hohnbaum. "Bnd little by little, you get it done."

The fire put Hohnbaum in a unique position.

"They didn't want to bus the pre-k kids all the way across town, so they found an empty classroom at Price Harris elementary, and we were able to utilize that space."

So after a year away from her co-workers, she's ready to be reunited.

"The staff here, we are one big family, we love eachother," Hohnbaum said. "I couldn't imagine going through another year without my family with me."

The desks are ready, decorations set, now all this school needs are the students.

"I think it's going to be a happy time to have them back and there will probably be some tears of joy, just to be back here," Hohnbaum said.

A welcome home celebration is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday night. This will be the first time many of the students and parents get a look at the changes.

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