STILLWATER, Okla. —
NAME: Cherron Ukpaka
JOB TITLE: Principal
SCHOOL: Will Rogers Elementary
LENGTH OF SERVICE: Three years at Will Rogers, two years as assistant principal at Highland Park Elementary and 14 years in education
Construction was completed last fall on the new school building at Will Rogers, and classes began in the new facility shortly after school began. Is the new facility all that you thought it would be?
When the old building was still there, we did initial tours of the new building, I could see that the new building was breath-takingly beautiful, and the community just hadn’t seen how beautiful it was because the old building was still there. Now that the old building has gone down, the dirt is being moved and everything is being shifted, people can see how beautiful it is.
What surprises you most about the new building?
I’m surprised with the natural light in the building.
Oftentimes, my lights are off or I turn them off because you get mindful that you have some free resources to use. That’s good for students reading. The reflection off the book is better than fluorescent lighting.
What is it like to walk around the spacious new building?
It’s so airy inside. I’ve noticed our students are alert and ready to go. In our old building, it was kind of gloomy. The ceiling tiles were low to your head. It was built in the 1950s. I can’t imagine what they will say 63 years from now about this building. But I definitely think it will serve a good purpose for a pretty long time.
Stillwater voters approved a $61.5 million bond for the construction of Will Rogers and Highland Park. Are your young students aware of the commitment made by the community?
When we first moved in, we put on tiaras and told the kids, ‘Welcome to your new castle.’ And we have reminded them daily of how supportive the community is and how awesome it is to live in a community that’s willing to invest in you.