Ribbon-cutting celebrates opening of new 5-6 school building

Carl A. Nelson & Company Project Manager Perry Hines makes remarks during the Sept. 14, 2023, ribbon-cutting ceremony at College Community School District's new Prairie Creek Intermediate School. Carl A. Nelson & Company provided construction management agency services on the project, which began in 2020 after a successful bond election. (CANCO)

8 months, 3 weeks ago

Carl A. Nelson & Company was construction manager agent for College Community School District's new 189,000 SF school on Cedar Rapids' south side.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Tours by a steady stream of students, parents, grandparents, employees and community members followed a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 14, 2023, outside Prairie Creek Intermediate School here as the College Community School District officially celebrated the opening of its brand new attendance center for grades five and six.

The ceremony included remarks by district officials and representatives of Carl A. Nelson & Company (CANCO), which provided construction management agency services on the project. Planning dates back to a pre-pandemic bond referendum in March 2020, with pre-construction planning and design conducted over Zoom, and construction beginning in the spring of 2021. The ceremony concluded when the same group of then second- and third-graders who helped break ground on the building at the end of the 2020-21 school year returned as fifth- and sixth-graders to cut the ribbon. The students and their schoolmates occupied the building in August, at the start of the 2023-24 school year.

"Some might say that our students can survive in space less state-of-the-art than the one behind me," Superintendent Dr. Douglas Wheeler said to open the ceremony. "You know, they may be able to survive. But we want them to thrive, and we want to send a strong message of how we value them through how we approach our learning spaces."

Prairie Creek Principal Jen McDonnell described the new Prairie Creek Intermediate School in numbers: "hundreds of meetings, thousands of decisions and a million emails, ... one beautiful building," which in 189,000 square feet houses "850-plus fifth- and sixth-graders, 65 certified staff, 22 paraeducators, four teacher leaders, two counselors, 10 cafeteria staff, five custodians, six secretaries and SRO." School Board President Randy Bauer said the school is more than an amalgamation of bricks and mortar, but "a symbol of the importance of what our community values, which is education and the belief that everyone has the right to a high-quality education."

With work already underway to remodel the former Prairie Creek school as a 9th-grade and alternative school (with CANCO as construction manager), Wheeler said the new building positions the district so enrollment can grow by 30% "without having to think about building another building, allowing us to shift resources and focus to programming spaces that enhance opportunities for students and our whole community to be active in their learning during and beyond school."

A Prairie Creek Intermediate School student poses during a Sept. 14, 2023, ribbon-cutting and open house at the new building alongside a photo of himself participating in the school's groundbreaking ceremony in 2021. (CANCO)

For their contributions to arriving at the ceremonial event, the superintendent credited the district's voters and the Board of Education, but also members of the administrative team of the district, the designers from OPN Architects, the various contractors and suppliers (Wheeler noted that more than 80% of the cost of the building was contracted to builders and suppliers within a 50-mile radius of Cedar Rapids), and Carl A. Nelson & Company.

"I especially want to thank (Project Superintendents) Marcus DePalma (and) Bill Curler, and (Project Manager) Perry Hines," Wheeler said, "who were on-site nearly every day during this project, looking out for what could be a great quality experience, and actually delivering a better project than what we could have anticipated through their oversight."

Hines spoke on behalf of CANCO, thanking the more than 20 contractors and suppliers, who "provided skilled tradesmen and materials for this project," OPN Architects and the sub-consultants who contributed to the building design. He also thanked CANCO Superintendents Curler and DePalma for "living on this site for two years," and the district and school board "for choosing us and putting your trust and faith in us to build this project for you."

With school board members, district officials and others looking on, students at Prairie Creek Intermediate School in Cedar Rapids cut a ribbon Sept. 14, 2023, to celebrate completion of the 189,000 SF school building. (CANCO)

Members of the Carl A. Nelson & Company project and company leadership team pose with College Community School District officials prior to the Sept. 14, 2023, ribbon-cutting. From left are, Chris Smith, president, CANCO; Jamie Stanley, vice president of operations (Cedar Falls), CANCO; Marcus DePalma, project superintendent, CANCO; Perry Hines, project manager, CANCO; Angie Morrison, CFO, College CSD; Dr. Douglas Wheeler, superintendent, College CSD; Dan Culp, vice president of operations (Burlington), CANCO; and Tim Seibert, P.E., chairman, CANCO. (CANCO)


Prairie Creek Intermediate School, main entrance. (CANCO)

Classroom neighborhood at Prairie Creek Intermediate School. (CANCO)

Classroom at Prairie Creek Intermediate School. (CANCO)


Cafeteria at Prairie Creek Intermediate School. (CANCO)

Cafeteria curtain wall outside Prairie Creek Intermediate School. (CANCO)

Gymnasium at Prairie Creek Intermediate School. (CANCO)


Playground outside Prairie Creek Intermediate School. (CANCO)

Locker and restroom area at Prairie Creek Intermediate School. (CANCO)

Kitchen at Prairie Creek Intermediate School. (CANCO)