By Alison Bailin
Local dignitaries and special guest, Mrs. Cindy McCain, gathered at the site of the Buckeye Elementary School District’s newest school on November 4 to celebrate the official groundbreaking for its 9th school, John S. McCain III Elementary.
This state-of-the-art school has been designed by the Orcutt Winslow Architecture Firm and is being constructed by the Chasse Building Team. It is scheduled to open to students in August of 2021. The school will be located on land donated by the Walton Group, near Miller and Lower Buckeye roads in Buckeye. Against a backdrop that featured renderings of the school, ceremonial and commemorative items, and a colorful display of balloons and decorations that showcased the school’s official colors of navy blue and gold, a series of speakers addressed the crowd on a clear morning in the West Valley suburb.
Superintendent Dr. Kristi Wilson spoke to the attendees about the district's ongoing commitment to creating a school like none other.
“We are determined to have Senator McCain represented by more than his name on the front of the building. This will be a school that reverberates with his presence. His energy. His curiosity. His honor. Not as some sort of memoriam, rather, as a place where students aspire to exemplify the traits so identified with Senator McCain. A place where students could aspire to be their best selves, just like the Senator. A place that provides students a way to achieve lofty goals for themselves, their community, their state, and their country,” Dr. Wilson told the 50 people gathered to hear the remarks.
Superintendent Dr. Kristi Wilson and Mrs. Cindy McCain
John S. McCain III Elementary will feature a cutting-edge C-STEM (Coding, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) based curriculum that will also uniquely balance critical thinking, humanities through history, and social skills.
“There are schools that feature coding as part of their curriculum, for example, but there is so much more to a well-rounded educational experience. Learners must also learn how to empathize, collaborate, relate, and be of service to their families and their communities. They must not only have the technical know-how to solve problems, but they must also be able to work with others, to understand the world around them, and be able to actually leverage those skills to impact their world, engage in a future economy that is not yet clearly defined, or be of maximum service to their communities,” Dr. Wilson explained.
Cindy McCain also spoke of the project's importance and how her family has embraced the school as part of her late husband's legacy. “John often spoke of how important teachers were to him becoming who he was. He was a guy that sometimes wasn’t always on the right path and would get himself in trouble, but teachers always helped guide him back.”
After hearing remarks from other dignitaries, including Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck and Governing Board President Jane Hunt, guests of honor and district leadership participated in the ceremonial first dig, officially launching the project that is expected to last nine months.
Mrs. McCain summed up the energy and enthusiasm of the morning as she closed her speech by telling the audience, “I’m excited to get these shoes dirty and turn some dirt!” before donning a hard hat, participating in the dig, and then posing for pictures with many in attendance.
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Jan/Feb 2021 issue, Vol. 10, No. 1.