Welcome to Duncombe

Visitors pack new elementary that replaces 100-year-old FD school building

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari This concrete block was saved from the old Duncombe Elementary School building and installed in the lobby of the new one, which held an open house Saturday.

Parents, students and community members got a look at the newly reconstructed Duncombe Elementary School Saturday morning before its official opening in the fall.

Duncombe will be reopening nearly three years after structural issues forced the Fort Dodge Community School District to close the more than 100-year-old building, which was demolished.

Students were taught in the former Fair Oaks Middle School building starting in the fall of 2015. They will once again be taught inside Duncombe this fall.

School staff guided groups of community members throughout the building, explaining the new features, spaces and programs Duncombe will offer.

Duncombe Principal Pat Reding said Saturday that he loved seeing all the people coming to the new building and learning about it.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Janice Peterson, a Title 1 reading teacher, gives a tour of the new reading room at the Duncombe Elementary School open house Saturday.

“It’s a tremendous feeling,” he said. “It’s so wonderful to see all these people here today.”

Reding said the journey the school has undertaken has been a great one, “that took us from the old Duncombe to Fair Oaks to Duncombe again.”

His favorite part of the day was listening to the stories that students, parents and staff members told of their memories of Duncombe.

One of those people sharing memories was Julie Williams, a kindergarten teacher at Duncombe.

In addition to teaching at Duncombe for 30 years, Williams has other connections to the school; her husband and father-in-law both attended Duncombe, as well as her son.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Janice Peterson, a Title 1 reading teacher, gives a tour of the new reading room at the Duncombe Elementary School open house Saturday.

“I’m over-awed at the beauty and the planning that went into it,” Williams said.

In fact, she said one of her kindergarten students told her, “This is awesome!” when he walked into the building for a tour.

Williams said she loves the new building.

“Everything about it is so clean and fresh and new and state-of-the-art,” she said. “And it’s for the kids. The kids will love it. And so will the staff.”

She even admitted it was a little emotional for her when she visited her new classroom for the first time.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Visitors fill the cafeteria at the Duncombe Elementary School open house Saturday morning. The open house celebrated the re-opening of Duncombe School, which closed in 2015 due to structural issues.

“I loved the old building,” she said. “I didn’t think I could love anything more.”

The new Duncombe Elementary School is 63,500 square feet, and will feature a Makerspace in the library. Additionally, the windows have new technology that allow them to either brighten or darken a room based on what’s happening outside.

The new music room is also attached to the stage in the gym, allowing easier access for musical performances.

Current and former students enjoyed touring the building.

Kate Parker, 9, of Fort Dodge, will be a fourth-grader at Duncombe in the fall.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Dane O’Connor, 6, of Fort Dodge, takes a drink from a new drinking fountain during the Duncombe Elementary School open house Saturday.

She would have attended school in the old building, but the same year she started in the district was the year the structural problems were discovered.

“I was taking a tour,” she said of her only experience inside the old building.

As a result, she’s only ever attended school in the former Fair Oaks building.

But she loves the new Duncombe.

“It’s a really cool place,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Payton Johnson, 3, of Fort Dodge, holds her mother, Jennifer Johnson’s, hand as she plays on the new playground at Duncombe Elementary School Saturday.

Her younger sister, Allisyn Parker, 7, who will be in second grade this fall, agreed.

What’s she looking forward to the most about the fall?

“Finding out who my teacher is,” she said.

Grant Behrens, 12, of Fort Dodge, attended school in the previous building.

He was on a tour of the new building with his family, and found himself exploring the new library, which is filled with empty bookshelves that will be filled by the time students arrive in the fall.

“It’s more modern,” Behrens said of the new building. “It looks better for the kids to learn. It looks like the kids have more fun here.”

While he does feel a little bad he won’t attend school in Duncombe, he said he already gets to experience the upgraded technology at Fort Dodge Middle School.

“You get Chrome Books and things like that every day,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Grant Behrens, 12, of Fort Dodge, looks over the shelves in the library at the new Duncombe Elementary School during an open house Saturday morning.


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