School’s in session as almost 6,900 local students start 2017-18 school year |

School’s in session as almost 6,900 local students start 2017-18 school year

Frist-grade teacher Corina Guardado explains to the kids on the first day of school breakfast Wednesday at Avon Elementary School. The school went under construction this summer as part of the $144 million voter-approved projects in the district.
Chris Dillmann | |

AVON — Almost 6,900 children rang in the beginning of the 2017-18 school year on Wednesday in Eagle County.

“It gets a little lonely around here without the students,” said Dana Harrison, Avon Elementary School’s assistant principal.

Around 325 students filled Avon Elementary’s space, amid a few last-minute details that were being wrapped after a summer of frenetic construction.

“A school is not a building, it’s kids,” said Dr. Roy Getchell, Avon Elementary School’s principal.

Miracle workers

Because Avon Elementary was home to summer YouthPower365 programs and the InteGreat lunch program, workers couldn’t even get in there until after July 4.

“It’s a miracle,” Getchell said. “It was lots of work, lots of it after hours.”

A week ago, Pat Casey, Avon Elementary’s librarian, had 10,000 books packed into 200 boxes. She and some friends put the school’s library back together in a week.

“This year’s preparations for the first day were a bit more stressful than normal for our teachers and building staff since we needed to put the finishing touches on many of the summer renovation and construction projects in our schools.” said Tammy Schiff, chief communications officer for Eagle County Schools. “Sandy Mutchler, our COO; Aaron Sifuentes, director of maintenance; and his team and the technology and construction crews deserve our collective thanks for working tirelessly to insure we were ready to open the doors for students today.”

All part of the plan

Several schools around the valley saw upgrades and some major remodeling over the summer. Some changes are for form, but most are for function. New security systems will keep out people who have no business being there, Getchell said. Most schools now have them. The rest soon will.

Carpet, gym floors, water fountains, windows … the list of upgrades goes on and on.

The improvements are all part of $144 million voter-approved projects ($233 million with interest). Construction will continue through 2019.

“The new school year always brings excitement for students, joy for parents and professional gratification for teachers,” said Dr. Maggie Lopez, Eagle County Schools’ interim superintendent. “Even after my 38 years in the education business, I still get butterflies in those first moments of seeing the kids walk through the doors.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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