Behind the Scenes of the Riverdale Grand Opening Events

Opening the Riverdale addition has been a great experience and it took an army of volunteers. The building itself, is a pleasure to showcase—as it really demonstrates the district vision for how a facility can impact student learning. While the fanfare for the project is much deserved, here’s a rundown of all of the opening activities surrounding GMSD’s first major capital project.

The day before school opened, the entire student body, staff, and current parents gathered to have a group ribbon cutting. Using a specially printed ribbon, hundreds of yards long, the PTO leaders made sure everyone got a chance to use their scissors at the same time. The event coincided with Riverdale’s annual Meet the Teacher Day—so once inside the building everyone’s first stop was the wall of schedules and homeroom lists. From there, several families took a look around all of the new facilities. Elementary students were especially interested in the music, art, gym, and science lab spaces because they were listed on their schedules. In the new multipurpose space, the RES PTO served special cookies and made sure that everyone had their own section of the personalized ribbon to commemorate the event. The GMC PTO donated a signing board (similar to the one that hangs at district office) for the grand opening.
You can view event pictures by clicking the image below.

Meet the Teacher

We are incredibly proud of the building and the work that our teachers and community put into the design of all of the spaces. In partnership with the Germantown Municipal Television Studio, we created this documentary to catalog the process and thank those involved.

Perhaps, our department’s favorite part of all of the festivities—we opened the building to the general public for tours on Saturday, August 19th. Nearly 500 people (non-RES parents) showed up to explore the facility.


The event was run and planned by a committee made up of school staff, parent volunteers, and a little over 100 middle school students to demonstrate how the building would be used. Eight tour guides flawlessly delivered the main messages about each space and how it is to interact with students.


A Houston High student, Alexander Buckley created a tour map for those that chose to explore on their own.

Here is a sample view of Alexander Buckley's Disney-esque map design.

This tour also utilized the opportunity to introduce the public to our new partnership with the Tennessee Shakespeare Company. The theater company taught lessons throughout the tours in the school’s new amphitheater space.

Click the image above or here to read an article that details the new partnership.

Piggy backing on this public event, we also needed to thank our funding body, The City of Germantown.

*Special thanks to Jenny Koltnow as the head of our logistics team during the tours and to Karen Barbieri for spearheading up the sample teachers and students as our instructional coordinator.

Immediately following our event, the Riverdale Knight’s Watch handled security and parking, ushering general public out of the building and delivering our students and teachers to a complimentary dinner. Marco’s Pizza donated pizza for the students and Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza donated personalized pizzas for the RES staff members who were sacrificing their Saturday. Special thanks to Joanna Young and Mindy Fischer for organizing the staff and student dinner.


Meanwhile, Bonnie Lee led a team of volunteers in resetting the facility for our dinner party.

The table scape was inspired by the building itself—a marriage of the inside and the outdoors using natural materials and technology. During the dinner, the centerpieces scrolled through images of the building. Special thanks to Terry Schmitt, Chris Manguso, and Michael Kartaltope for creating those special centerpieces and Holiday Flowers for loaning the committee floral arrangements to accompany them.


The napkin rings doubled as a card holder for a lapel pin. Lastly, the amazing RES art department created a ceramic magnet gift for each guest.

Once guests arrived, they were ushered to a photo booth where Joy Williams served as our volunteer photographer. You can view some of those images here. The GMC PTO brought out their signing board. As guests gathered in the lobby, the Houston High School Chamber Orchestra entertained them.

Before dinner, the guests were treated to a tour with one of our eight trained tour guides and the students and teachers had another chance to showcase their talents. On the tour, guests got a chance to hear the band and choirs perform, visit the multi-functioning science/STEM lab, a handful of classrooms, an outdoor Shakespeare lesson, a basketball and cheer practice, and the art studio complete with plein air painters outside. Our visitors were all very impressed.


During the dinner, the Superintendent expressed gratitude as did the Mayor in short speeches before the documentary, Beyond the Box: The Making of the Riverdale Addition, was shown. Immediately following the documentary, the dinner guests were treated to live entertainment provided by the Riverdale music teachers.

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