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New performing arts center opens in Mancos school district

Friday’s cornerstone and ribbon-cutting ceremonies celebrated about a year’s worth of renovations to the Mancos schools
The Mancos RE-6 School District's new performing arts center.

The Mancos school district welcomed the community to celebrate its $25 million makeover Friday.

A Masonic cornerstone ceremony commenced at 5:30 p.m. to honor the school’s renovations and all the effort that went into pulling them off.

Masonic officials traveled from all over the state to conduct the commemoration.

A cornerstone dedication ceremony made the school’s renovations official.

Then, just before 7 p.m., a ribbon-cutting revealed the new performing arts center, which features a glossy new indoor court and stage.

Previous Mancos superintendent Brian Hanson allowed new Superintendent Todd Cordrey the honors of cutting the ribbon.

Afterward, families were invited to tour the campus, exploring the new updates and becoming acquainted with them ahead of the first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 17.

The school applied for a BEST grant, which funded $20 million to the project.

A bond passed by the community supplied $5 million.

Firmer Superintendent Brian Hanson addressed the crowd, speaking of embarking on the journey of conceptualizing the improvements and applying for the BEST grant.

“It was a roller coaster up and down,” he said.

At first, the district didn’t receive the grant, he said.

Then, two more schools — Mancos was one — were allotted the funds to complete their dream projects at the last minute.

Hanson was visibly emotional during his speech.

“(A) falsehood about retirement is that you never have to cry in front of strangers again,” he said.

He told the community about the original goals he set out to achieve: building the performance center (originally planned for 1992), revitalizing the destroyed gym and enhancing security.

His dream became a reality.

Additionally, the cafeteria was connected to the elementary school, a bus loop was installed in front of the school to increase safety, the elementary school gained a new playground and the football field was revamped.

New superintendent Todd Cordrey, who is beginning his first year overseeing the district, thanked Hanson for his dedication to the Mancos schools.

He spoke of cleaning out Hanson’s office once he was hired — and finding a few belongings he left behind.

Cordrey returned a pair of goggles to Hanson, thanking him for his vision for the district; a vest, thanking him for his concern for safety: and a construction hat, thanking him for his leadership.

A plaque will hang in the new performing arts center to recognize Hanson’s service to the district.

Cordrey was happy with the turnout to the event, he said.

He’s looking forward to the plays, performing arts and even more sports the school will be able to host, he said.

“We’re really fortunate to have an exceptional music and arts teacher,” Cordrey told The Journal. “It (the renovation) was needed.”

The district’s new football field.

“We’re very blessed to have this,” athletic director Heath Showalter told The Journal, speaking of the new football field.

The old football field’s condition wasn’t up to standards, he said.

While the school’s sports seasons got cut short because of the pandemic, the school has since taken advantage of the new facilities and is looking forward to continuing to do so, he said.

About 550 people made all of the renovations happen, said Neil Dolder, project superintendent at Jayne’s Construction, which worked on the schools.

“There’s a real special place in our heart for the town of Mancos and the Mancos schools,” he said. “We have nothing but fond memories of building this school.”

His team was even invited to teach a math class and hold a career fair along the way, he said.

“You have the best football field in the Four Corners,” said a representative from Goff Engineering, another firm who worked on the project. “Go, Blue Jays.”