It was considered to be cutting edge when it was originally constructed nearly four decades ago.
Now, almost 40 years later, Slatington Elementary is once again a state-of-the-art building thanks to a $20.4 million renovation project.
A crowd of about 100 people comprised of Northern Lehigh School District administrators, teachers, school board members, students, parents and local officials gathered at the facility to celebrate the rededication of the facility on Wednesday.
Assistant Superintendent Karen Nicholas welcomed those in attendance, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Superintendent Michael Michaels then recognized the special guests in attendance.
Among those on hand were school board members Edward Hartman, president; Gary Fedorcha, vice president; Raymond Follweiler, Donna Kulp, and Natalie Green; Slatington Borough Mayor Walter Niedermeyer; Slatington Borough councilmen David Schnaars and Robert Steets; as well as Washington Township Supervisor Roy Dengler.
Also acknowledged were firms D'Huy Engineering, Inc., project manager; KCBA Architects, project architect; Skepton Construction, general contractor; Albarell Electric, electrical contractor; JMB Mechanical, Inc., mechanical contractor; and Snyder Hoffman Associates, MEP engineer.
Michaels described the venture as a "wonderful and beautiful project."
"This is definitely a big moment for us," Michaels said. "Our citizens in the community lived through the construction, our teachers did a really good job, and our students, they rolled with the punches, and were just absolutely a pleasure to be around."
Michelle Dotta, a behavior interventionist at the building, said she was born in 1973, the same year in which the building was initially constructed.
Dotta said back then, the building was considered to be state-of-the-art largely in part to its open concept classroom approach.
"Wow, how things have changed," Dotta said. "Thirty nine years later, Northern Lehigh is once again a state-of-the-art building."
Michaels said that when he became superintendent four years ago, he was charged with developing a five-year design plan. At that point, he said it became very clear to him that the building was in dire need of repair.
"Now, we bring to you today, four years later, a beautiful education facility that hopefully will be home for students for the next 40 years, and hopefully home to the teachers for the next 40 years," he said. "I can't tell you how proud I am of the community for allowing us to build this facility."
Michaels added the project was a "testament that the Northern Lehigh School community is truly a hidden gem in the Lehigh Valley."
Hartman said that when the board hired Michaels, he was charged with two main issues: to keep taxes down, and to make improvements to Slatington Elementary.
The facility, Hartman said, will serve a useful and very practical purpose to educate the students.
"We're very proud of these kids; they do a great job," Hartman said. "What we did here is cooperation; everybody worked together."
Follweiler thanked the teachers, who he said worked well together throughout the entire process.
"We are very proud that we could remodel this beautiful building to help our students continue to learn," Follweiler said. "We're very pleased that we did this project, and how great it looks."
Follweiler then pointed to Michaels, who he commended for being on top of the project from start to finish.
Marcincin complimented the students for their cooperation throughout the entire process.
"They really enjoyed seeing things being moved around," Marcincin said. "The students moved from their old classrooms, to transition classrooms, to their new classrooms."
Marcincin said the facility "truly is a school the community can be proud of."
Northern Lehigh Education Foundation President Lori Geronikos said the organization has enjoyed its partnership with the school district over the past 15 years.
Geronikos said the main goal is to promote higher learning in the areas of math, science and technology.
At that, Geronikos then presented Marcincin with a "housewarming gift", a check in the amount of $10,000 on behalf of the organization.
Nicholas then thanked district administration who helped decorate the facility for the rededication.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony followed. Afterward, a tour of the building was made available to the public.
Larry and Susan Eckhart of Slatington said they were impressed with the building's new design.
"It's very nice and bright," Susan Eckhart said. "It looks like it's conducive to lots of learning."
Some of the highlights of the project include a new classroom wing, as well as a new district administration wing; the existing classroom wings were reconfigured and changed from an open concept to individual classrooms; and the school's administrative spaces were relocated from the center of the building to the newly constructed main entrance, which provided a secure vestibule.
In addition, the cafeteria, kitchen, gymnasium and other spaces were completely renovated. A new heating and air conditioning, along with new fire and security systems were installed. Also, the bus drop off area was separated from the parent drop off area to provide safe circulation around the site. Finally, a new playground was also included with the project.
The new, 110,000-square-foot building contains 24 classrooms, three computer labs, cafeteria space to seat 225 people, and an expanded gymnasium to seat 675 people.