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Hard hats today, accessible spaces to come

Caledonia breaks ground on new Dutton Elementary site

Caledonia — Fifth-grader Elise Werner and her friends from Dutton Elementary put on their own plastic hard hats, grabbed shovels and helped their teachers and principal break ground on the future site of the new Dutton Elementary. 

“We’re going to have brand-new classrooms,” Elise said.

Nearby, third-grader Kayla Feldpausch danced around the mound of dirt staged for the groundbreaking. Her mom, Sara, and older brother Grant, a freshman, shared in Kayla’s excitement for the new building.

Located at Patterson and 76th St., the new 60,000-square-foot elementary school will have two entrances, larger instructional spaces and a barrier-free playground that will be fully accessible to children with mobility challenges. It is scheduled to open in 2025.

The new school is funded by the 2020 and 2023 bonds. Amazon Senior Operations Manager Eric Miller also presented Principal Shawn Veitch a check for $40,000 as a donation to the new playground. 

Veitch said he and his staff are excited for a brand-new building that will be accessible for all students and have air conditioning. 

“We have designed this new building to specifically meet our students’ needs,” he said. “From a barrier-free playground to a school building where all students can access the entire building … we can all come together as one.”

Rep. Angela Rigas, R-Caledonia Township, spoke at the Dutton Elementary groundbreaking ceremony
Rep. Angela Rigas, R-Caledonia Township, spoke at the Dutton Elementary groundbreaking ceremony

State Rep. Angela Rigas, R-Caledonia Township, said building a new Dutton Elementary is a testament to the community’s commitment to providing the best education for students. 

“Today’s groundbreaking represents the dawn of a new era,” Rigas said. “This new building will provide not only state-of-the-art facilities but foster an environment where imagination can soar, dreams can be pursued and where friendship can be forged.”

Interim Superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer also thanked the community for their support and helping make Caledonia a great place to live and go to school.

Before grabbing a shovel, he said, “It’s time to start scooping dirt!”

From left, third-grader Gabby Marsman, fourth-grader Millie Torre, fourth-grader Lily Marsman and fifth-grader Elise Werner at the new Dutton Elementary groundbreaking ceremony
Principal Shawn Veitch encourages his students to grab shovels and assist in the official groundbreaking
Dutton Elementary Principal Shawn Veitch said the new school building will be built on a foundation of love and community

Read more from Caledonia: 
Voters approve bond proposals, millage renewals in six Kent ISD districts
Communication device enables students to share thoughts, even trash talking

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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