Rising Star Elementary able to reopen after sewer backup; farewell event rescheduled

Residents and alums will have the opportunity to say a formal goodbye to Rising Star Elementary after all.

The kindergarten school in Platte City reopened Monday, May 9 for classes after a sewage backup temporarily closed the facility last week. According to the Platte County R-3 School District, an environmental services firm tested the building materials for hazardous substances and gave confirmation on Friday, May 6 that students were safe to return.

An event called ‘A Fond Farewell to Rising Star’ will now be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12 at the school — a week after the original plans were scrapped due to the emergency situation.

The problems started on the morning of Tuesday, May 3 with the main sanitary line for the building, which malfunctioned and caused a backup, forcing students and staff to evacuate. Classes were relocated to Siegrist Elementary for the remainder of the school day, and officials were forced to scramble in an effort to accommodate the displaced students for the rest of the week.

City of Platte City officials helped diagnose the problem, but with only 10 school days remaining at the time of the evacuation, fears were that the building might have to close for good earlier than expected.

The district plans to discontinue Rising Star as an attendance center after this school year. The district remains in the process of finishing construction on Compass Elementary, which along with Siegrist Elementary, will be a K-5 facility in Platte City.  The work is part of a $29 million capital improvement project funded through a tax levy passed in April of 2015. 

Part of the reason for the new building centered around not sinking money into an aging facility like Rising Star, which opened as a K-6 facility back in 1954. Many of the systems, including the water and sewage, were outdated but would have been costly for a full repair.

The sewage backup left some physical signs of water damage, and the building’s baseboards and some carpet were removed.

The last day of classes for Platte County kindergarten students will be Tuesday, May 17.

The grades served at Rising Star Elementary continued to dwindle over its 60-plus years in the ever-growing district. By 1997, only first grade and kindergarten were at Platte City Elementary with its name changed to Rising Star, and five years later, first grade was moved out as well.

The farewell event will include memories from former staff members and students, including former principal Ron Harmon, Sharon Sherwood (board president and one of the first students to attend the school), former teacher Paula Roberts and current principal Kali Young.

The evening will also feature a performance by current Rising Star kindergarten students, outdoor activities and photo opportunities. Food items will be available for purchase via local food trucks, and dessert will be provided by the Platte City Elementary PTA. 

Photos, stories, traditions and other Rising Star memorabilia will also be on display.

The building will close after the school year, and the district will most likely sell the building and land. The City of Platte City could be interested in the area for future usage, but no official talks have been made public.