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Roseville’s Chilton Middle School celebrates grand opening

Campus currently serves 300 fifth-through seventh-grade students
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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The long-awaited grand-opening of Barbara Chilton Middle School in Roseville took place Tuesday with a dedication ceremony in front of a packed auditorium of young Bobcats and their parents.

Students arrived for the inaugural academic year on Aug. 21, and Tuesday's event commemorated the long journey in making the middle school a reality. The campus was originally scheduled to open in fall 2011, but was delayed due to lack of students in the surrounding area.

"It took a few extra days to get to this point," said Roseville City School District Superintendent Rich Pierucci, during the ceremony.

Construction on the 8,000-square-foot facility designed to serve 800 students was completed in 2008. But the campus resides west of Fiddyment Road, where residential development has slowed.

The school has about 300 fifth-through seventh-grade students. This configuration will change to sixth through eighth grade with the opening of the district's 19th campus, which will be located in the Fiddyment Farm neighborhood.

"You're the very first students to come to Barbara Chilton and that's something you'll remember for the rest of your lives," Pierucci told the students.

Chilton was named for the long-time educator who retired as director of student services in 1989. Roseville City Councilwoman Carol Garcia spoke about her mother during the ceremony, along with granddaughter Raeanne Garcia.

The younger Garcia has taught in the district for five years, and said she developed a passion for education from her grandmother. She received her teaching credential on the same day Chilton passed away in May 2007.

"Her dedication to teaching will live on for generations to come at the school that bares her name," Raeanne Garcia said.

Chilton's daughter Sherry Rufini described her mother as someone who loved to dance, cook, sew and embrace life. She recalled a time when her mom went down a seven-story waterslide at a water park in San Jose - at 70 years old.

In 2004, Chilton suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. In 2007, Rufini took her mom to the middle school to see the construction.

"She had no idea this school would be so large and so beautiful," Rufini said. "She was so excited."

Guy Gibson, a former student and Roseville City School District school board member, said Chilton inspired in him an interest in literature and history that continues today.

The principal is Jeff Ancker, who previously served as head of Blue Oaks Elementary School. For the past few years, St. John's School has operated out of Chilton Middle School, vacating in May when the school closed due to a debt of more than $500,000.

Both Chilton Middle School and the currently unnamed 19th campus under construction are part of a public-private partnership. The district partnered with Westpark Associates in 2002 to fund construction of five new schools in the West Roseville Specific Plan. Two of those projects have since been completed: Chilton and Junction Elementary School.

For Chilton's $50.6 million price tag, the developer paid $33.7 million and the state of California funded $16.9 million.

A partnership with the city of Roseville made possible the construction of an enhanced gymnasium that the city uses for adult recreational activities during nonschool hours.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.