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Colony Oak STEM labs nearing completion
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The Cougar mascot was on hand, greeting those arriving at Colony Oak Elementary School on the first day of school on Tuesday, including kindergarten teacher Sherri Huff and first-grade student Savannah Aldrich.

The start first day of school Tuesday at Colony Oak Elementary School went smoother than expected.

Principal Cheryl Griffiths said just that after some 450 kindergarten- through- eighth- grade students were already settled in, returning to the classroom after the long summer break.

The Ripon Unified campus is going through major renovations thanks to voter-approved Measure G. “The kids only saw the buildings go up,” said Griffiths, referring to the returning students.

They saw two of the seven buildings nearly completed upon their return.

Griffiths was pleased to see the development that took place over the summer. Included were the recently finished site work on East Santos Avenue, fire lane, and drop off along with the parking lot (sealed and striped) and well site grading.

At the previous evening’s RUSD meeting, Superintendent Siegrid ‘Ziggy’ Robeson indicated that move-in time line for use of the two lab buildings equipped with restrooms at “the last week of September.”

It was nearly a year ago that ground-breaking took place to modernize Colony Oak, which was first built in 1990 using portable classrooms that, for now, still exist.

Prior to that, Griffiths made it clear that she didn’t want her students deployed throughout the district during construction of the future STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) campus. “We wanted to stay at Colony Oak,” she said.

As result of that, students not only remained on campus but they got to witness the transformation of the school.

Director of Operations Andy Strickland said in his report to the school board that restrooms of the nearly completed two buildings have been tiled. The buildings are also shaping up, having been coated and painted.

“So far, so good,” said Robeson. “We’re right on schedule, barring any major changes.”

As for the first day of school, Colony Oak is usually congested with traffic during the early morning drop-off of students.

Not so on this day.

Griffiths raved about the efficient morning traffic flow and the excitement among the students, who were greeted by the Cougar mascot.

She’s anticipating that all will be moved into the new buildings shortly before Christmas. Youngsters in kindergarten, first and second will be the first to enjoy the accommodations of the new Colony Oak, with the other classes following in ascending order.

“It’s a tentative plan,” said Griffiths, who has been involved in construction stages since Day 1. “But we need to be flexible and patient.”

She added: “It’s been a long process. But now we’re beginning to see the end product.”