BENSON — Benson Primary School third- and fourth- grade students got a surprise visit from Governor Doug Ducey last Wednesday.

The governor was on campus for a ribbon cutting ceremony in celebration of the primary school’s newest addition, the Frank “Chic” Maldonado Learning Center.

The eight-classroom, 17,000 square-foot building was constructed for the school’s third- and fourth-grades, after the primary school experienced rapid growth, Principal Jomel Jansson said.

“Our preschool starts with two-year olds and our primary school goes from preschool through fourth grade,” noted Jansson. “We have a student enrollment of 603.”

The learning center’s cost ranged between $3.2 and $3.4 million and was fully funded by the state School Facilities Board, Jansson said.

“When it comes to state funding, this project is unique because it represents the first fully funded new construction project by the School Facilities Board since 2006.”

The learning center was named in honor of Frank “Chic” Maldonado, who served as president of the Benson Unified School District governing board for several years. Known for his passion for education and the Benson community, Maldonado passed away in 2017.

The learning center, which Jansson describes as state-of-the-art, was designed with inside classroom and hallway learning spaces, with glass walls that lead into the interior of the hall.

“And the glass walls open up,” she said. “When we have students who may need things like extra academic support, or who need to make up a test, they can go into the hall area with a paraprofessional and get their work done away from the classroom. This design frees the teacher up and allows classroom instruction to continue, with students fully visible while working in the hall space.

Flexible seating throughout the classroom, including cushioned chairs that rock, turn or move, are other features that Jansson likes.

“The technology within the classroom is top-notch,” she said. “We’re thrilled with what this new addition brings to our primary school kids and the district.”

The metal building is located adjacent to the library, was constructed off-site and then assembled on the primary school campus, said Jansson.

Ducey’s presence on Wednesday for the ribbon cutting was met with tremendous excitement by the district. “In Arizona, we know that our kids thrive when we have strong public schools,” Governor Ducey said while addressing those gathered at the campus, adding that the learning center will “provide students an engaging learning environment that will help them succeed’ while helping to meet the needs of a growing Benson community.

“Many thanks to the Benson Unified School District and everyone who worked to bring this project to fruition,” the governor added.

Along with the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Benson Middle School Band, led by Ron Rivera, performed for the event, refreshments were provided by the Benson High School Culinary Arts class and the public had opportunities to tour the new facility.

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