February 26, 2002, Pasadena, CA - Willard Elementary School in Pasadena Unified School District hosted two grand opening celebrations on Tuesday, February 26 to commemorate the completion of a new library and cafeteria serving area as well as modernization of the school's existing buildings.

The event was marked by speeches from Principal Kathy Onoye, and Ed Celaya, Director of Facilities, and featured original songs performed by Willard students. Illustrations from the students hung on the walls, thanking the architects, general contractors, and construction workers for their help in remodeling the school.

In November 1997 Altadena, Pasadena and Sierra Madre passed Measure Y, a $240 million school bond, with a 73 percent majority vote. The funds were earmarked for modernization projects in all 30 schools that make up the Pasadena Unified School District.

The first projects were "Quick Start Projects" and all PUSD schools received some immediate improvements. At Willard Elementary the "Quick Start" bond money was used to add Internet drops in every classroom, improve the roofing, add lighting, repair the drinking fountains and put up new fencing. The "Quick Start Projects" were completed in December 2001.

Willard, originally built in 1922, began the major modernization and construction phase in December 2000. The modernization in the existing buildings includes enhanced technology access, new markerboards and tackboards in every classroom, new air conditioning and heating, new fixtures, new windows, interior and exterior painting, a new PA system and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access improvements. Two new buildings have been constructed to house a library and indoor cafeteria serving area. The new library is 2,300 sq. feet, twice the size of the previous library. In addition to housing Willard's book collection, the library will also be equipped with approximately 10 computers, with Internet access. The 2,300 sq. foot cafeteria serving area will provide an indoor lunch area for 150 students that will be used in conjunction with the current outside eating area.

"The parents and students are really excited about opening the new library and cafeteria," says Principal Kathy Onoye. "We've never had a real library before."

District Architects Flewelling & Moody, General Contractor F.H. Pashen/SN Nielson, Inc. and Vanir Construction Management, worked closely with school officials and a site planning committee to ensure the modernization would meet the needs of students, teachers, administration, and community members. Feedback about the new facilities from teachers and the administration has been extremely positive. And judging from the happy faces at the opening celebrations, the children are pretty excited, too.