The $4 million ‘extreme school makeover’ was made possible through voter support.
When the new school year began on Monday, August 19, students were excited to see their campus. Classrooms were gleaming with new solar lights, built-in storage, and tackable walls decorated with colorful bulletin boards. The school’s open floor plan had been re-configured to more traditional large and airy classrooms. Students also participate in a One-2-One laptop program in the technology-rich Walnut school.
Walnut Valley Unified School District officials, C.J. Morris staff, students and the school community celebrated the homecoming during a Grand Re-Opening and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony on August 22.
“We are so excited for this day. This has been a dream for our staff,” said Principal Donna Hunter.
“It has been a year of transition - our temporary home at the Ron Hockwalt Academies was really nice, but it’s so good to be back home!” she said.
Hunter also recognized parents, staff and community members during the ceremony.
“You don’t get to this point without a lot of people, a lot of support and a whole lot of help. Thank you for your time, effort and energy that was put into this building - and all that was done to make sure that we are open and ready for kids today,” she said.
During his remarks, Superintendent Dr. Bob Taylor said he researched Cyrus J. Morris to learn more about the school’s namesake.
“Cy Morris came to the community in 1952 when it was a K-8 school in Walnut. He served really as everything - a teacher, a principal, a leader and also as bus driver on occasion,” Dr. Taylor said. In 1970, the Board appointed Cy Morris as superintendent of the newly formed Walnut Valley Unified School District.
Dr. Taylor said he had the opportunity to call Cy’s wife, Nancy, and his daughter, Barbara, this week.
“I told them how proud I thought Cy would be if he had the opportunity to see his school. Not only to have a school named after you, but that it looks beautiful, had so much success, such a great community and so many people working here for the kids,” Dr. Taylor said.
“His legacy lives on in this school,” said Taylor. Morris’ granddaughter, Kelli Reese, also a former WVUSD employee, represented the family at the ceremony.
“This is truly a special place and we’re glad it has a beautiful look to it now,” Taylor said thanking the community, teachers, staff, students and District staff for their part in the long-awaited modernization.
Board Members Helen Hall, Nancy Lyons and Cindy Ruiz also thanked the community who passed the bond measure that made the school’s state-of-the-art renovation possible.“It truly goes to show that the community really supports the schools here,” said Board President Helen Hall.
"C.J. Morris Elementary School has always had the finest teachers, staff, students and parents. Now C.J. Morris has the finest facility to match!" commented Board Vice-President Nancy Lyons.
“This is a beautiful school and beautiful site. I hope when you tour the school this evening you’ll be able to absorb all the changes taking place,” said Board Member Cindy Ruiz, whose children attended the school.
She also recognized former Principal Sue Arzola who was instrumental in the implementation of the school’s prestigious International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme in 2006.
“With her guidance and leadership this school grew immensely,” Ruiz said.
“How wonderful it is to see a dream become a reality. I hope the modernized Cyrus J. Morris continues to inspire students to love learning and makes them proud to be a part of a community that believes education is important,” Arzola said. She is now the Principal at South Pointe Middle School.
“This is a great new facility,” said WVUSD Personnel Commissioner Ron Everett.
The school received Certificates of Recognition from the City of Walnut and Offices of Congressman Ed Royce, Senator Bob Huff and Assemblyman Curt Hagman.
”I’m so excited that my kids are able to go here and it’s beautiful,” said parent Amy Noiboonsook, who was also a former student. “It is a big change and I absolutely love it. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.”The Walnut High School Pep Band under the direction of Corey Wicks provided entertainment during the reception.
--Courtesy of the Walnut Valley Unified School District