Manheim Central hosts Baron Elementary ribbon cutting, open house

By on August 21, 2019

Manheim Central’s newest elementary school, Baron Elementary, is now open. The school district hosted a ribbon cutting and open house at the school, which is located at 123 E. Gramby St., Monday, Aug. 12.

On Aug. 26, about 425 pre-K through fourth grade students will walk through its doors. Nearly that many parents and community members visited the school during the open house event.

“This is a learning center; our teachers will make it come alive,” said school board president Linda Williams. “This school is a collaborative effort between the school district and the community; we work together to provide a quality education for our students.”

“At Baron Elementary, we are excited to continue the work of making a positive difference in the community of Manheim. With the wonderful traditions of Stiegel Elementary and H.C. Burgard

Elementary alive and well in the hearts and minds of our students and staff, we hope to carry on these great traditions, while also setting new standards of excellence, at Baron Elementary,” said principal Mike Pyle, “We are looking forward to creating wonderful memories as we begin a new journey together in our new school. ‘Proud to Be A Baron’ will take on new meanings as our learners enter through our doors each day.”

He pointed out that the kindergarten students who enter the school Aug. 26 will be the class of 2032. He and several students assisted school board members with cutting the ribbon. Once the ceremonial ribbon was cut, he and school board members used their scissors to snip pieces to hand out to students and community members as they surged through the doorway.

As the community explored the building, students looked for their classrooms and cafeteria and even played on the playground. Both students and parents commented on the fact that the building has air conditioning, which Burgard Elementary (the elementary school that Baron Elementary replaces) did not.

The 86,000-square-foot two-story elementary school was constructed on the site of the former middle school, which was built in 1926 as a high school. Groundbreaking for Baron Elementary was held in October 2017. In his remarks prior to the ribbon cutting, school board vice president Rob Iosue gave the history of the site in a story that he said took its inspiration from Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.”

Mayor Scot Funk also paid homage to the role the site has played in education. He grew up on Linden Street, across from the school. He played on the playground and on the ball field, and even attended the middle school.

Manheim Central’s new Baron Elementary as viewed from the Linden Street parking lot. The school bus drop off area along Gramby Street can be seen to the right.

Manheim Central school board president Linda Williams and Baron Elementary principal Mike Pyle hold the scissors to cut the ribbon held by school officials and students.

“We (borough leadership) feel it’s important to have an elementary school in town. To have a strong community, you need to have a strong school district, and we definitely have that. This new school is part of the exciting things happening in Manheim–there’s also a lot of business development going on now,” he said.

Baron Elementary features 24 academic classrooms as well as support classrooms, a music room with a practice room and adjacent instrument storage room, an art room with storage space, and a light-filled media center. A full-size gym shares a performance/platform area with the cafeteria. There are also small group instruction room s and large group instruction spaces as well as administrative, guidance and health areas.

Superintendent Pete Aiken said it was critical to keep an elementary school in the borough for several reasons.

“Perhaps most importantly, our parents deeply desired to have the accessibility and walkability that Baron Elementary will provide. Additionally having a neighborhood school provides a strong sense of community while also improving the neighborhood,” he said.

The school has been designed with LEED Gold Certification standards in mind. District information indicates that “it’s highly sustainable, incorporating materials and systems that require minimal energy use”. A pamphlet handed-out during the open house details green building elements such as natural daylighting and energy efficiency.

During a July 22 school board meeting Business Manager Bryan Howett indicated that Baron Elementary is under budget with a projected building cost around $20 million.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at 

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