Shoshoni School Groundbreaking. As the dirt flew, so did the balloons Tuesday afternoon. (Ernie Over photo)

(Shoshoni, Wyo.) – Fremont County School District 24 in Shoshoni broke ground Tuesday afternoon on it’s new $49-million K-12 school just northwest of the town. It was a festive affair as each elementary school grade walked up California Street to where the ceremony was held carrying blue and gold balloons, followed by the junior high and high school students. The procession of students stretched for three blocks and took about 20 minutes.

When everyone had gathered, and consumed brightly colored blue and yellow cupcakes, several speakers addressed the students and then school board members, Wyoming School Facilities Director Bill Panos, FCSD#24 Supt. Tammy Cox, District Administrators and St. Sen. Gerald Geis walked across the street to place shovel to dirt and perform the ceremonial ground breaking. As the shovels hoisted dirt into the air, the student body standing in the background released the balloons they had been carrying among cheers and laughter.

The Shoshoni Junior High Advanced and High School Wrangler Band then struck up the school song, It’s a Grand Old Flag, as students, faculty and guests sang and clapped along, pumping their fists into the air when it came time to chant Blue and Gold Fight Fight Fight!

SHS Principal Bruce Thorn addressed the students first and told them it was an historic day for the town and the school as the long wait for a new building had ended and ground was to be broken. Bill Panos, the Director of the Wyoming School Facilities Department, said it was the mineral wealth of the state that made the construction of their new school possible. “It is a great fortune that our mineral wealth helps builds schools everyplace across the state, a burden that once was placed on the shoulders of taxpayers,” he said. “This process started eight years ago when the legislature put funding in place for this school, and the actual planning began two years ago. I can’t think of a better community in Wyoming that deserves a news school more than Shoshoni,” he said to cheers from the kids.

The new K-12 school will replace the current school, first built in 1937 and added onto numerous times.

State Senator Gerald Geis, who now represents eastern Fremont County, credited St. Senator and colleague Eli Bebout, a Shoshoni grad, for leading the way in the legislature to make the new school happen. “We’re also getting a new school in Basin that is much needed, and now all the schools in my district will have been taken care of,” he said.

School Board Chairman Shawn Steffan said it was a proud day for the district and he could not wait for the ribbon cutting in two years.

Photos and story by Ernie Over (click on photos to enlarge) 

Four pickup trucks marked the four corners of what will be the new K-12 school building at Shoshoni. The new school is located NW of the present town and immediately north of the district's bus barn and transportation facility. (Ernie Over photo)

Four pickup trucks marked the four corners of what will be the new K-12 school building at Shoshoni. The new school is located NW of the present town and immediately north of the district’s bus barn and transportation facility and south of the Shoshoni Airport. (Ernie Over photo)