Welcome to the Dexter Early Elementary Complex!

By Lonnie Huhman,


It was fitting that two second-graders helped the school board and district administration with dedicating Dexter’s new early elementary complex.

Before a crowd of around 100 people inside the complex’s shared multi-use space, which connects Anchor and Beacon Elementary schools, Dexter Community Schools welcomed the community into the new building brought to the district through a voter-approved bond. Construction of the complex was completed just this past month.

The new construction adjoins the building formerly known as Cornerstone Elementary and is a mirror image of that school, school district officials said.

“Together, the two schools are called the Dexter Early Elementary Complex. The complex is connected by two large, multi-use spaces designed to encourage innovative programming and hands-on learning,” Dexter Community Schools said in a press release.

Standing next to his principal, Craig McCalla, during the dedication, Anchor second-grader Will Kleber said they welcome the Dexter community not only into their school, but also into their lives as two schools calling the new complex home and becoming one happy community.

Beacon second-grader McKenna O’Brien, standing next to her principal Ryan Bruder, told the attendees at the dedication on Feb. 11, that some of her favorite parts at her new school are the library, because it is big and easier to find great books; the playground, also with more space and the pick-up process, which she said is much easier here.

She, like every speaker at the ribbon cutting and dedication, thanked the community for its support. They also thanked the tradesmen and craftsmen, planners, architects and other project managers, including Granger Construction, for making the building’s construction a success.

Anchor Elementary School principal Craig McCalla and second-grader Will Kleber welcome the community to the new building.
photo by Lonnie Huhman

“Thank you very much to the people of Dexter for helping to raise money to pay for our new school,” McKenna said. “I just love it.”

During the day on Feb. 11, Anchor and Beacon students celebrated the dedication with developmentally appropriate smaller group events including adding items from the classes to each building’s time capsule and participating in a symbolic ribbon cutting.

The Dexter Early Elementary Complex is at 7480 Dan Hoey Road. It’s one of the big projects that come from the Dexter voter-approved $71.7 million dollar construction bond, passed in 2017, to address space issues by building new elementary, upgrading facilities district-wide, purchasing buses, and making other improvements.

DCS said the early elementary construction took just over a year. Work began on the facility in November 2017 and former Bates students and teachers moved into their new classrooms on January 24th and 25th, 2019. Bates School will become home to additional early childhood programs.

Bruder, who is in his third year as principal and is a product of DCS, said the new complex is a great example of Dexter is all about.

“What makes Dexter so unique and what drew me back here, back home, is the emphasis on community,” Bruder said. “And when I look at this building and I look at what we were able to accomplish, it is a physical representation of those values. In this space we are able to connect with one another. In this space we’re able to collaborate with one another. In this space we will be able to learn with each other and from each other. In this space we will educate, develop and inspire the next generation of Dexter’s leaders.”

McCalla said since the complex has been open it has been amazing to see the organic collaboration between the schools. He said with the shared spaces he expects to see an exciting and inspiring future of learning between students for years to come.

Both principals thanked the school board and administration.

The shared space features a workshop, market place and various other flexible learning areas where the two schools can come together.

The Workshop inside the shared, flexible space at the Dexter Early Elementary Complex
photo by Lonnie Huhman

“The board is delighted that our young 5s though second grade students will be unified in one complex within the existing campus that has served and will continue to serve all our students through twelfth grade,” DCS school board president Michael Wendorf said.  “The generosity and support of our community together with creative and brilliant design work by TMP Architecture will allow for innovative, collaborative, hands-on learning by all students attending our Early Education Complex. We could not be more excited for the future of our district and our students.”   

Wendorf said they appreciate the community’s constant support in helping to make DCS great.

 The community tours some of the new shared space at the complex.
photo by Lonnie Huhman

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