November 8 marked an important day for the Witt family, and one they will most likely never forget. Greg Witt, a project manager for Halfacre Construction Company and the grandson of the late Gene Witt, was grateful that the Manatee County school district selected Halfacre Construction Company to complete the scheduled remodel for Gene Witt Elementary School next year.
It became more sentimental for Greg, however, when he realized he would be assisting other subcontractors to build a memorial in remembrance of Gene before the remodel on the elementary school begin.
Gene, a teacher, coach, principal and former Manatee County School District superintendent, served the Manatee County school system for more than 35 years. He made such an impact on the community throughout his lifetime, and in turn, the community chose to do something special to honor his legacy. A faculty meeting helped decide that an outdoor memorial would serve as an excellent addition to the school. There, students could read the featured plaques highlighting Gene’s life and serve as an outdoor classroom.
“It was quite an honor for the school district to ask us to be a part of this project, a memorial to honor my grandfather,” says Greg. “It’s a classroom that will remember him and teach the students the reason why the school was named the Gene Witt Elementary School.”
At 9 a.m. on Thursday, November 8, a dedication ceremony was held at the elementary school. During the ceremony, first graders recited the pledge of allegiance and sang a patriotic song, and guests heard from special speakers, such as Principal David Marshall and Ron Witt. Visitors remained in the cafeteria for the Gene Witt school song, a slideshow, cake and punch before they headed out to view the memorial.
The memorial is centered around a bronze eagle statue, the elementary school’s mascot, with future plaques to be added that highlight Gene’s major life events. With the remodel set to start next year, Greg hopes to honor his grandfather’s legacy through his own work.
“This project is extremely special to me because my grandfather loved this school,” says Greg, whowill oversee construction at the school that honors his grandfather. “Gene Witt Elementary School is a legacy left by my grandfather, who worked tirelessly to serve the school system and this community. Our team plans to honor that gift, but I know I have very big shoes to fill in order to extend his legacy into my generation.”
The commercial construction company was selected to add structures to the school’s current campus and renovate its existing buildings. Currently, six buildings exist, totaling about 87,000 square feet, on the school’s campus. The new building will be used for additional classrooms and match the school’s present architecture. Scheduled to start next summer, the project is slated to take about 2 years due to phasing.
The project includes site work to clear a 7-acre parcel, incorporating additional asphalt driving lanes for the parent drop-off and pickup queue and adding new play fields.
To view the video from the memorial event, click here.