It was hard to find a place to stand in front of Infinity Middle School on July 31.
A few minutes before officials from the school and from the Cherry Creek School District formally cut the ribbon and opened the new building, a considerable crowd milled on the concrete outside the doors. Students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members stood shoulder-to-shoulder, eager to catch a glimpse of Infinity's ceremonial debut.
CCSD Superintedent Scott Siegfried picked up on the crowd's mood of anticipation and celebration as he spoke from a small dais set up in front of Infinity's front doors. Behind him, the brand-new, 147,000-square-foot building made possible by voters' approval of the 2016 bond and budget election cut an impressive figure.
"This is an experience that doesn't come around too often," Siegfried said. "Today I see a lot of smiling faces," he added, explaining that the layout, resources and technology of the new school epitomized the concept of innovation. "They got it right."
Indeed, students will have plenty of tools to tap into their inner innovation, creativity and collaborative skills when Infinity opens its doors on Aug. 13 for the formal launch of the 2018-19 school year. The building was designed with 21st-century learning in mind, and a walk around the new facility revealed collaborative learning spaces, an interactive media center and classrooms equipped with access for all the latest technological tools.
Like Altitude Elementary, which will open in October, and the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, which is set to launch in the fall of 2019, Infinity was designed with the professional and academic demands of the future in mind.
"Infinity was designed as a beacon of hope and opportunity," said Cherry Creek Schools Board of Education President Dave Willman. "It will have a deep and sustained impact, encouraging lifelong learning and innovation."
Those goals are clear in the school's official mission statement – "To empower, to inspire and to innovate" – which was spelled out on banners hanging outside the building. In between musical performances and poetry readings by members of Infinity's inaugural class of students, Principal Marquetta Thomas reminded the crowd of that vision, and pointed to the importance of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"It's all about the kids. We are here to empower and inspire our students," Thomas said. "We are excited about what we have accomplished here today. It's been a journey of many individuals over many days."
Many of those individuals stood alongside Thomas on the stage or mingled in with the crowd. Cherry Creek School District Board of Education members and former Superintendent Harry Bull were on hand; Thomas presented wooden plaques created in the kind of fabrication lab that'd be part of Infinity to a crowd of contributors including Executive Director of Middle School Education Tracey Grant, Facility Operations Manager David Henderson and Coordinator Mike Lovick and officials from CRP Architects, PC, construction company Bassett & Associates, Inc. and Schaffer-Baucom Engineering and Consulting.
The wider community also received a due amount of credit from officials for their passage of the 2016 bond package, which allowed for a broader series of initiative to encourage innovation across the district's 108 square miles. From new innovation spaces in every single elementary and high school to the construction of new, stand-alone facilities like Infinity, these funds have helped pave the way for the district's evolution in the coming decades.
"As we celebrate today, we know we would not be standing here without the tireless work of our community," Willman said. "We've been given a great opportunity; each of you here today is a leader in your own way."
Willman then went on to join Siegfried and Thomas to cut the broad, yellow ribbon in front of Infinity's doors. The crowd patiently filed into the building, eager to explore and get a taste of the school's technological wonders. A scavenger hunt saw attendees using QR codes on their smartphones to navigate the halls and discover interesting facts about the building.
"Students will have access to technology, and it will also be a 'bring your own device' school," Thomas explained. "We want you to experience that today."