In the mid-60's following extensive enrollment studies that were completed to evaluate the needs of the District, Superintendent William C. Hagenlocher made the recommendation to the School Board that two new elementary school buildings be constructed.
One would be at a site on Paul Road, and the other would be constructed on Coldwater Road. The School Board agreed, finances were proposed as a bond issue, and bids were sent out.
The bids for construction for the Coldwater Road School were opened on March 22, 1967. On March 27, 1967, the contract was awarded to the architectural company of Walzer, Miller and Genga.
The estimated cost for building the Coldwater Road School was $1,317,824.00. This proposal was broken down in the following manner:
General Construction - $ 832,200.00 Heating & Ventilation - $ 151,192.00 Plumbing Work - $ 137,173.00 Electrical Work - $ 131,919.00 Kitchen Equipment - $ 42,940.00 Paving Work - $ 22,400.00 Grand Total - $1,317,824.00
The general contract for construction was awarded to A. W. Hopeman & Sons, Inc.
The design of the Coldwater Road School was very unique for it’s time. This innovative design featured no load-supporting walls. Due to this unique construction, workmen could actively work both inside and outside during the construction period. This allowed for the most efficient use of time and talent for all the contractors on site.
The building was designed in 5-foot modules, and was partitioned into sections with acoustical sliding doors. Steel columns protruding from the walls, were located a few feet from the exterior wall, and this integral steel skeleton system actually bears the weight of the roof.
Work on the Coldwater Road site started on April 3, 1967. A strike of local concrete workers delayed the initial construction for approximately 6 weeks, but on May 19, 1967, 35-yards of concrete were poured for the footings of the school.
Construction of the school continued at a very rapid rate, and by early fall, most of the outside work had been completed. When the weather turned cold there was still landscaping and outside paving yet to be completed, but for the most part, the school was rapidly taking shape. The inside work went a bit slower, but progressed at a steady rate. By the beginning of December, it was apparent that the school would soon be ready for opening.
Decisions had already been made on which students, teachers and staff would be housed in this new school. On the day before Christmas vacation of that year, students were bused from the schools that they had been temporarily housed in, over to the new Coldwater Road School.
The first official classes were held on that day. Following the holiday vacation, as each area of the building was finished, more and more students moved to the school. By early spring, the school was housing 630 students.
Coldwater Road School was dedicated in 1968 with a cornerstone marker. A time capsule was put together by the students and staff in the building and was placed behind the cornerstone and sealed up. There are no records that we are aware of that list what was put in the capsule.
In the original plans for the building, a fourth wing was in the proposal to be added on at a later date. The wing would be on the south side of the existing building, and extend out into the intermediate playground. In the spring of 1994, the School Board appointed a taskforce to investigate the need for adding additional classroom space to several of the elementary schools due to increased student enrollment.
In the fall of 1994, construction started on the fourth wing at the Disney School. This wing added an additional eight classrooms, a new computer lab and enlarged the existing cafeteria. In September, 1995 the new wing was opened, and the Disney School took the form of the original plans, with a total of four wings.
Redistricting occurred at this time, and in the first year the Disney student population exceeded 650. The addition of new classrooms also increased the number of staff members assigned to work in the building. The parking lot was enlarged in 1996. In 1997, our PTO built a new state-of-the-art playground.
The first principal of Walt Disney School was Mr. Jack Story (1967-73). His secretary was Mrs. Muriel MacKay. The second principal of Disney School was Dr. James Nugent (1973-75). Following Dr. Nugent, Mr. Kenneth S. Hutton was appointed principal. Mr. Hutton remained the principal of Disney until he retired in June, 1990.
During the time Mr. Hutton was principal, Mrs. Alice Savage was his secretary. Mrs. Savage retired in 1983, and Mrs. Valerie Young took over that position. Following Mr. Hutton’s retirement in June, 1990, Mr. Richard Carmen was appointed principal. Mr. Carmen retired in June 2005. Mr. Brooks was principal until 2009. When he left, a search was conducted for a new principal. Mrs. Tepas served as interim principal until the official hiring of our current principal, Mrs. Damelio. Mrs. Valerie Young retired in 2009. Mrs. Mary Dale is now the building secretary.
Over the years, the size of the staff at Disney has changed depending on the needs of the District and student population. In the mid 1980’s, school enrollment was decreasing, and for several years, one of Disney’s wings was utilized by BOCES for its special education programs. When the general enrollment started to increase, these rooms were turned back into regular classrooms, which they remain today.
We have had several special programs that have been unique to Walt Disney School. One of the best known, was the Camp Stella Maris week for 5th & 6th graders. When classes were adjusted to send the 6th grade to the Middle School, 4th & 5th graders participated in the Stella Maris experience.
This program took hundreds of hours of planning, and was held every June for 18 years. The last year that Camp Stella Maris program took place was 1991. In its place, an on-campus activity for the entire school took place called, "Small World." As part of the program, many multicultural activities took place throughout the year and in all grade levels.
Disney takes much pride in it’s Volunteer Program, which has run successfully since 1969. This program encourages parents, grandparents and outside community people to become part of the Disney family by encouraging volunteering in the school, in the classroom, on special projects, or field trips. Over the years, we have built up a wonderful core of Disney volunteers who donate hundreds of hours of time to make school a special place.
The history of the school is difficult to summarize in a few short paragraphs, and certainly there is more to a school than the walls and books. It is the special feeling that one gets when they come into the Walt Disney School building. It’s the warmth, the friendliness, the professionalism, the caring, and most importantly, the children that make Disney a special school.
As we start a new century, we look forward as a school of the future. We know that the children we work with today, are the future of our country … and our world. It’s a powerful responsibility, but as our past history has shown, we are up to the challenge!