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Despite the fact that it was only about 36 degrees and the harsh winds made everyone shake, the students of Wellsville Elementary School were all smiles Thursday as they celebrated upcoming construction with a groundbreaking ceremony.

The ceremony was to get students and community members excited about the construction project at Wellsville, which will consist of an addition to the current building and renovations. The addition will house a new library, gymnasium, music room, offices and additional classrooms, according to a letter form Northern York School District Superintendent Eric Esbach.

According to Vangie Unti, the school's supervisor of administrative services, most of the school buildings in the district have been updated over the last several years. Last year the focus was on Dillsburg Elementary, where an addition housed eight new classrooms and two small-group instructional spaces, according to the district website.

The ceremony started with opening remarks from Wellsville Elementary Principal Faithe Rotz.

"Today is a dream coming true," she said.

Students were heavily involved in the ceremony. Before opening remarks, students joined hands and lined up outside where the walls of the future building would be, posing for a picture. The school's fifth-grade chorus sang the national anthem and "America the Beautiful" for those in attendance, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Wellsville Elementary School led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Several school board members also battled the cold to be a part of the ceremony. They started the official groundbreaking, with members Ken Seichrist, Amy Rodgers, Michael Barndt, Elisabeth McLean, Esbach and Assistant Superintendent Jason Beals each picking out a plastic construction hat and a gold shovel.

They then took a shovel full of dirt, posing with it for pictures before putting it into a large pot with an evergreen tree in it. The evergreen, Rotz explained, was a symbol for the elementary school, which would stand tall and unchanging despite the construction. The tree will be planted in front of the new portion of the building.

After they had finished, student representatives from kindergarten to fifth grade lined up for their opportunity to break ground. Each student, with the help of a school board member or administrator, shoveled into the ground in front of the school, tossing the dirt into the air when finished.

Construction for the addition will begin as early as this week, Esbach said, after the ceremony was finished. He's most excited to see the new gymnasium. Currently, students use their cafeteria as a gym as well.

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"We are very excited," he said. "We've been waiting a long time for Wellsville to have this project. We're excited to make dirt."

Meanwhile, Rotz is more excited for the extra classroom space. Currently she said some teachers have to share classroom space, making it cramped.

"While it will have its own set of challenges, I think it will be worth it in the end," she said of the construction.

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