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Unveiling of G. Weaver Hipps' portrait marks school opening

October 9, 2009

The memories have long gone of the old Kmart building in Lehigh Acres. Today it is the permanent home of the G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School at 1200 Homestead Rd. The building was renovated a few years ago and has housed several staging schools. It now is officially the G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School and the inside contains the latest in technology and colorful classrooms.

The school was officially dedicated in the large cafeteria with a a crowd of around 150 people, including third graders who sang on stage during the program.

The highlight of the dedication ceremony was the unveiling of an oil painting of G. Weaver Hipps, a one-time assistant superintendent of schools for Lee County. His widow, Jane Hipps, and their two daughters were on hand for the ceremonies. They sat on the front row before being called on stage to be honored and to take part in an official ribbon cutting.

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Unveiling of G. Weaver Hipps portrait: Artist Dilya Schauer, left, stands along side of her painting of G. Weaver Hipps, for whom the new school at 1200 Homestead Rd. is being named. At right is Shanna Miller, who unveiled the portrait, which will hang in the front entrance of the school.

The portrait was painted by Dilya Schauer and it will hang in the foyer of the school, not far from a display cabinet of educational items owned by Hipps that is on loan to the school from his family. Hipps was born in 1935 and passed away in 1988.

Dr. James Browder, current superintendent of schools, said he knew Hipps well and also learned from him and many of the practices in the schools today were his ideas and projects he worked on. He also knew him as a fellow golf player, he joked.

School officials, many of them old friends of Hipps, and current school administrators and principals attended the ceremony.

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Jane E. Kuckel, the school board's current chairman welcomed the large crowd with an invocation carried out by Ruth Moon, a member of the community.

The crowd stood up as the JROTC Color Guard from Lehigh Senior High School, under the direction of First Sgt. Edward Davidson, marched into the cafeteria to present the colors.

A large group of students representing the school's chorus provided music including the singing of You're a Grand Old Flag and toward the end of the ceremony, Never Stop Learning, under the direction of music teacher Richard West.

Dr. Scott LeMaster, the school's principal, thanked educational leaders for the school and said many of Hipps' programs were being carried out to this day there. The Hipps school is in the old Kmart building which was completely renovated and turn into a school around five years ago. Since that time, it has been a staging school, preparing students for the new East Lee County High School, the new Treeline Elementary School and the new Lehigh Elementary School, which occupied the building during the last school year. They are now in their new building on the same site off of Richmond Ave., and a dedication will be held there later, school officials said.

The school principal's twin sons, Scott and Shane LeMaster led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

In addition to School Board Chairman Kuckel, other school board members who attended included Robert Chilmonik, Jeanne S. Dozier and Elinor C. Scricca, who gave a brief speech saying how proud she was of the latest new school in Lehigh Acres. Scricca represents the east side of the school on the school board.

The ceremony was held last week. More information on the school can be found online at:



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