When asked about the $10 million transformation of Francis Vigo Elementary School, principal Kelley McCarty's eyes light up and a smile spreads across her face.
“It's beautiful, amazing,” she said. “The transformation is beyond my expectation, for sure.”
And now that it's done, she can't wait to show it off.
Teachers will get their first glimpse at the now finished renovation today, and officials with the Vincennes Community School Corp. will then host an open house from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday for the public to get a look as well.
Students will return to classes on Aug. 8.
“I think (the teachers and students) are going to be ecstatic,” McCarty said. “Everything we need is there. There is a new teacher work room. The office will be more efficient. We have more safety features, quieter classrooms, restrooms that are closer to the instructional areas, making it more convenient to kids.
“And it's all handicapped accessible.”
The renovation is part of a 4-year, $40 million effort to restore and upgrade the corporation's four neighborhood elementary schools. Vigo now has a large glass entryway, revamped classroom space, a renovated gymnasium and, McCarty's favorite, a brand new cafeteria — something it's never had before.
“Our gym is now a gym,” she said excitedly. “We'll be able to offer our kids so much more in the winter months, indoor recess even.
“No more using it 2-3 hours a day for lunch. We're all very excited about that.”
McCarty, too, has something special planned for the ribbon cutting celebration, which will kick off the open house promptly at 5 p.m.
A handful of outgoing students, she said, were disappointed at not getting the chance to enjoy the remodeled school building come August. She's selected some that have younger siblings currently at Vigo, she said, and they will cut the ribbon, ushering their siblings and other Vigo students in first.
“I wanted them to be able to be a part of it in some way,” she said.
Coming from positions at other elementary schools that were eventually closed — ones in Edwardsport and the former Washington Elementary School — McCarty has relished the opportunity to oversee the day-to-day renovation of a historic building.
“To be able to breathe new life into a building, to be a part of the process that will make sure it's there for years to come, as an administrator, it's just something I never thought I'd get to do,” she said.
VCSC superintendent Greg Parsley said following the brief ribbon cutting ceremony, the public will be able to do self-guided tours through the building; a handful of teachers and students will be on site to answer questions. There will also be refreshments in the cafeteria.
And he, too, is excited to show it all off.
“The results (of this renovation) are awesome,” he said. “I didn't know if we could top Tecumseh-Harrison, but Vigo is just as impressive.
“When people get inside and see the color scheme and some of the things Kelley and her team have done, they're going to be amazed,” Parsley said. “It's a beautiful building.”
School board member Karla Smith, too, called the finished building “marvelous,” while Pat Hutchison described it as “magnificent.”
“It's going to be an exciting evening,” Smith said of Wednesday's open house. “And as quick as that happened, we'll soon all be sitting here saying we're excited to go to Franklin's (open house).
“It just seems to move along that fast.”
Crews with Vincennes' Wolfe Construction have already moved out of Vigo and into Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, 2600 Wabash Ave., the last of the four renovations. Demolition of that building is about 75 percent of the way done, officials with Garmong Construction, Terre Haute, reported to board members Monday.
Tecumseh-Harrison was finished last year; James Whitcomb Riley underwent a more minor renovation the year before that.