September 30, 2008

Yucaipa’s New School

By Bob Otto

YUCAIPA - There's a lot to like about a new school - the classrooms, the teachers and the sense you get when you're in a state-of-the-art building.

Ten-year-old David Kong focused on something else.

"My teacher," he said.

David's teacher would be the ever-popular Casey Woodgrift, who teaches fifth grade at Chapman Heights Elementary, the newest elementary school in the Yucaipa-Calimesa School District. The school, at 33692 Cramer Road, was honored in a dedication and ribbon- cutting ceremony Saturday.

Along with fellow 10-year-old classmates Lauren Wright and Valerie Hall, David served as a tour guide for the ceremony.

About 500 visitors crowded into Chapman's multipurpose room for most of the dedication. The multipurpose room is huge - much like a medium-sized gymnasium. It has a wide, well-lit stage. On the stage, several classes performed for a standing-room-only audience.

Students sang such patriotic songs as "Proud to be an American,""Hats off to America" and "Salute the Flag."

Between performances, Chapman Principal Andy Anderson thanked school administrators, parents, teachers and the construction crews, who made the school possible.

The school opened Aug. 18. Built at a cost of about $24 million, the school has about 550 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

David, Lauren and Valerie praised their teacher, Woodgrift, for being funny, for his magic tricks, but most importantly, "he teaches a lot of things that we (now) understand," David said.

But it took 10-year-old fifth-grader Cleopatra Goodlin to sum up Chapman best.

"It's awesome," said Cleopatra, who previously attended Franklin Elementary in Redlands. "My dad (Mitchell Goodlin) said my school looks like a college. Yucaipa needs newer schools like ours."

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