The remodeling and expansion of John Mills Elementary School, scheduled to be completed by August 2024, officially got underway May 17 with an enthusiastic groundbreaking ceremony attended by District 401 community members and distinguished guests.
"Today really is a great day to be a Trojan and part of the 401 family," said John Mills Principal Mr. Frank Kuzniewski, who served as the event's master of ceremonies.
On hand for the groundbreaking were members of the D401 Board of Education and administration, as well as John Mills faculty, staff, students and families. Also attending was Mr. Peter Herbert, retired John Mills principal.
Other invited guests included State Rep. Camille Y. Lilly, State Rep. Brad Stephens, State Rep. Kathleen Willis, Leyden Township Supervisor Rocco D. Biscaglio, Village of Elmwood Park President Angelo "Skip" Saviano, Village Trustee Bina Conte, Village Manager Paul Volpe, Police Chief Frank Fagiano and representatives from the two firms overseeing the project, DLA Architects, Ltd., and International Contractors, Inc.
The event began with the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, led by 5th grader Tyson Ruggles, followed by Mr. Kuzniewski's opening remarks.
"What an exciting time for our students, our District and our Village," Mr. Kuzniewski said. "We are so much more than this building itself; we are about all of us — our students, our staff, our teaching and our learning. Thank you again to the residents of Elmwood Park and Elmwood Park District 401 for making this opportunity possible."
To watch Tyson and Mr. Kuzniewski, click these links:
The ceremony featured remarks from Superintendent Dr. Leah Gauthier, D401 Board of Education President Mr. Frank Parisi, and Village President Mr. Saviano.
To watch the speakers and view their complete remarks, click these links:
ABOVE: John Mills students end their school song with an emphatic "Go Trojans" under the direction of music teacher Sarah Altshuler. Click the student photo to see and hear them perform! For more photos, visit these galleries. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)
The ceremony also recognized the grade winners of the student essay contest and student art contest that asked participants address in words or images the question, "How will a new school build a brighter future for me?"
Honored were essay winners Astrid Suarez Sierra (2nd grade) and Santiago Vasquez (5th grade), and art winners Abbigail Valenzuela (2nd grade) and Kevin Dabros (4th grade).
To watch the winners receive their recognition and awards, click these links:
- Video | Student Essay Winner | Astrid (with translation by Abbigail)
- Video | Student Essay Winner | Santiago
- Video | Student Art Winner | Abbigail
- Video | Student Art Winner | Kevin
A brief video was then shown in which administrators, teachers and parents discussed how the John Mills and Elmwood construction projects will build a brighter future. To watch, click the video embedded directly below.
John Mills music teacher Ms. Sarah Altshuler then led students in a rousing rendition of the school song. To watch, click this link:
The event ended with a series of ceremonial groundbreakings, led by D401 Board of Education members Mr. Parisi, Mr. Michael V. Scheidt (vice president), Ms. Susan S. Capraro (secretary), Ms. Mary Bruscato and Mr. Peter A. Volpe.
To watch the groundbreakings, click these links:
- Video | Groundbreaking by D401 Board of Education
- Video | Groundbreaking by D401 Board, Dr. Gauthier & Local/State Elected Officials
- Video | Groundbreaking by D401 Board, Dr. Gauthier, ICI Contractors & DLA Architects
- Video | Groundbreaking by D401 Board, Dr. Gauthier, Mr. Jennings, Mr. Sierra & John Mills Administration
- Video | Groundbreaking by John Mills Administration
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the John Mills groundbreaking, and thank you to the voters of Elmwood Park who made this project possible. We can't wait for the official ribbon-cutting two years from now!
ABOVE: Members of the District 401 Board of Education, along with District and John Mills leaders, participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking at John Mills Elementary School on May 17, 2022. From left: Buildings & Grounds Director Joseph Sierra, Michael V. Scheidt (vice president), Superintendent of School Dr. Leah Gauthier, Assistant Principal Natalia Gomez, Mary Bruscato (member), Peter A. Volpe (member), Susan S. Capraro (secretary), Frank J. Parisi (president), Assistant Superintendent for Finance & Operations James Jennings and Principal Frank Kuzniewski. For more photos, visit these galleries. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)