Wilroads Gardens Elementary is finished and their new kitchen and cafeteria are now in use

While construction is underway at many district buildings through the current bond project, Wilroads Gardens Elementary is finished and their new kitchen and cafeteria are now in use.

Construction began at Wilroads Gardens Elementary in the summer. Since then, the school’s kitchen was expanded by 630 feet. Additions included a 1,204-foot storm protected cafeteria and a staff parking lot in the back of the building. 

“These changes have been amazing for our students,” said principal Kim Armstrong. “It’s allowed us to expand our learning spaces by giving us a full-time functioning gym and it will allow us the flexibility in our schedules.”

Prior to construction, the building only had one area designated for both lunch and P.E. Because of this, the classrooms were only able to participate in P.E. during the afternoon. 

“Previously we were only able to do P.E. in the afternoon, now we can do it morning or afternoon because we’re not having to stop P.E. to pull tables out,” said Armstrong. “The new kitchen that we have allows us to serve the kids even faster than we have before because we’re not pulling out the serving equipment and the serving line and having to store it in a closet and pull it out daily. That saves us on custodial time of the maintenance, we don’t have to be so tight in our custodian schedule on cleaning up right after lunch to get the gym back open for P.E., so there’s been a lot of benefits just by completing this project.”

The additional space provided by the cafeteria also allows the staff extra space for meetings and other possible activities.

“We are able to use our cafeteria as a multipurpose room so the students can do small groups in there as a classroom,” said Armstrong. “We can house our PTO meetings in there, we can have staff meetings in there and training as needed, whereas before we didn’t have that space. It really frees up our flexibility and planning with our teachers, which helps us a lot.”

When the cafeteria opened up for operation, the building held a grand opening for the students.

“The kids kept asking ‘how soon until we get to go in there?’ and so we kind of did a grand opening,” Armstrong stated. “We got to have to kids go in and walk through the lines and practice entering and how to exit and how to get their foods through their new lines. They have been amazed with it, they love it.”

William Hammond, executive director of business and operations, mentioned that a smart board or projector will be added to the cafeteria in the near future. 

“Part of the administrations commitment is we want to take care of all of our schools,” said Hammond. “We’re not going to do just something on one side of town and not the other side of town. We want all of them to have the best possible that we can.”

Convenience for the staff and students to easily accomplish everyday tasks was the main goal of this project. Along with the expansion of the kitchen, $177,788 went towards additional kitchen equipment.

“We kind of pride ourselves in Dodge City on our kitchen and our food services, I think we’re second to nobody,” said Hammond. “If you have the right equipment, you don’t need as many people to get the job done. If you look at our kitchens, we don’t have as many people because we train, we do a good job of training, but we also provide the equipment so they can get the job done.”

Throughout the entire construction process, Armstrong stated that the safety of the students was always kept in mind. 

“Safety was always a concern,” said Armstrong. “There was a fence put up by the playground so the kids didn’t have access to the construction. All the different companies coming into our school, we requested that they sign into the office so we knew who was on the premises at all times. We did keep safety in mind throughout this whole process, and they were really good about working with us on that.”

On top of the safety, Armstrong also stated that the district has done a tremendous job of keeping the building updated on construction activity.

“The district has done a great job of keeping us informed that way if we knew if there was going to be loud noises one day,” said Armstrong. “They would come and contact us if it were going to be noisy, they were really good about working with us through all this construction.”

Hammond and Armstrong both stressed their gratitude towards the Dodge City community for participating in this project.

“We would like to say thank you to our patrons and taxpayers,” said Hammond. “Without their participation, this would not be possible. We could not do what we’re doing for kids, so thank you.”