Press "Enter" to skip to content
Dignitaries break ground celebrating the start of construction for the new Richmond School. / Laura Austin Photo

Sierra Sands breaks ground for Richmond School

By Patricia Farris News Review Publisher–

A groundbreaking ceremony celebrating the start of the new Richmond Elementary School to be constructed on the 40-acre campus was held on Monday, April 17. The event convened at the new campus site on the corner of Gateway Blvd and Gold Canyon Street.

Numerous dignitaries attended, some from the State, some from the County, and many community leaders. Dr. David Ostash, Sierra Sands Unified School District (SSUSD) Superintendent, was the Master of Ceremonies. He introduced guest speakers, which included Captain Vaughn,  Commanding Officer of Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake.

From the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) Louis Littleton, West Coast Region Director Hiwot Gebremariam, Program Activity Lead

Diane Mathein, Project manager

Brad Harlow, Technical Director for Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake

From the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC)

Lisa Silverman, Executive Officer

Mike Watanabe, Chief of Fiscal Services

Ryan Altergott, president of Colombo Construction, Louis Varga, VP of Project Development Maurice Macare – Arcadis/IBI Group to Maurice Macare.

A group of Richmond students was invited to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, after which they rendered a unique arrangement of the National Anthem.

Richmond students participate in Monday’s Groundbreaking Ceremony.
Laura Austin Photo

Ostash noted, “These students were invited to participate because their presence and involvement is a reminder of why we are here doing this.”

According to Ostash, Groundbreaking ceremonies have been used for centuries to celebrate the start of a new venture and give thanks to those who made it possible. They have been adapted to modern times but are still significant to the construction industry and the community involved. Although people are still determining exactly when the age-old tradition of groundbreaking ceremonies began, they have been an essential ritual around the globe for longer than we have written historical records. The groundbreaking act represented breaking the earth and holding a ritual to endorse a firm foundation.

In addition to breaking the earth ritual, our contractor Louis Varga shared that part of the significance of a groundbreaking is the ceremonious handing off of the blueprint from the architect to the contractor, saying, “Today, we will enjoy two symbolic ceremonies:  the breaking of the earth with shovels and the handing off of the blueprint from the architect to the contractor.”

Acknowledgments were presented by representatives from Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senator Shannon Grove, and Assemblyman Vince Fong.

Many dignitaries were included in the groundbreaking ceremony by shoveling some ground.

The Richmond school is replacing the campus damaged by the 2019 earthquakes.

Since that time, Richmond students have met at the old Vieweg elementary school campus.

Ostash said, “This is the 3rd groundbreaking opportunity with the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation grant program (OLDCC). This department maintains a list of schools nationwide that are on federal land. Each of these schools was evaluated for capacity and condition. Murray Middle School and Burroughs High School were in the top 10. Richmond was ranked number 37, but the earthquakes were an accelerant in the process.”

In the closing remarks,  Bill Farris, SSUSD board president, said. “We are excited to see the physical signs of the Richmond school replacement project appear,” Farris referred to the attendance of the Richmond students as a reminder of why the foundation of a good education is so critical, as these students will become our future leaders.