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Posted on Sep 6, 2019

New elementary school opens in transformed building

As young students entered Quincy School District’s new Ancient Lakes Elementary this week, they might not have known that the building and site have gone through perhaps the most significant changes in their long history.
The district created a new elementary school in the space that was the junior high, redoing most of the building in the process. Seventh and eighth graders have been moved out. And, on Sept. 3, the first day of classes, students in kindergarten through fifth-grade moved in.
“There’s a lot that happened in that sentence: seventh and eighth grade moved out and K through five moved in,” said Ancient Lakes Principal Colleen Frerks.
In the run-up to opening day, the school was expected to enroll about 350 students and employ 24 teachers, according to Frerks.

Prinicipal Colleen Frerks looks forward to seeing children arrive in the new school.
Photo by Miles King/Post-Register

The new elementary school houses three kindergarten classes, three first-grade classes, three second-grade classes, two third-grade classes, two fourth-grade classes and two fifth-grade classes. It also includes a developmental preschool and a special education class.
The new teachers were able to move into their new classrooms in mid-August, ahead of schedule, said Frerks. The building at that time was still very empty; they were waiting on everything from furniture to staplers, added Frerks.
The staff couldn’t treat this school year like any other, especially with the new building, said Frerks, adding, “it’s just always a process when you’re moving, figuring out how things fit.” Unlike a regular school year when teachers can set up classrooms they are familiar with, the move into the new building this year was a clean slate for Frerks and the staff.
“Every single system, from how kids go to recess, who goes when, every schedule, every procedure is a fresh start,” said Frerks.

The front of Ancient Lakes Elementary features a dramatic new entrance on the older brick structure.
Photo by Miles King/Post-Register

Anticipating the start of school, Frerks was excited to see the students arrive and react to the new facility. Some students had already seen the new building when they came to meet their teachers at an open house, but the majority of students would see the building for the first time on the first day of school, Sept. 3.
“It’s going to be really fun to open those doors and have all those kids and families coming in and experiencing it together for the first time,” Frerks said Aug. 30.
The school district has planned a public grand opening for Ancient Lakes Elementary on Sept. 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Prior to becoming the junior high in the early 1960s, the school facility stood as Quincy High School.
Before the district realigned grades and extensively remodeled the facility, at Fourth Avenue SE and C Street SE, the junior high housed seventh and eighth graders, although it included sixth graders at one point, according to Frerks.

By Miles King,