The students, mostly from Mills, who enter the new elementary school on Essex Avenue in 2017 will study and play there for only a few years.

But their names will be preserved for decades on an I-beam on which they scrawled their signatures with felt-tipped pens on Monday, and then watched it lowered into place and bolted to the superstructure.

Those students were among the hundreds of others including teachers and administrators from Mills, Natrona County and the Department of Education who attended the ceremony on the site of the former CY Junior High School.

All that's left of the former school is a gym that is used by Natrona County High School students, said Keith Christopherson, chairman of the board of trustees of the Natrona County School District. The gym will be a community facility after then new school, with its own gym, is completed next year, he said.

The "capacity school" as it was originally known, was intended to offer extra space for students in the district, but enrollment has been declining so it will be the new elementary school for students in Mills, Christopherson said.

The 51,000-square-foot, $11.6 million project is at the largest elementary school site in the district, he said.

The size of the building and the open land will mesh well with the programs at Mills Elementary School, Christopherson said.

"This school, in particular, they do outdoor education," he said. "They're really into outdoor education. They have their green house, they have a dinosaur dig site, and they get those kids outside as much as they can. So that's one reason they want to come here because it's such a great fit for them."

The capacity school, which will be renamed later, is one of the last major building projects for the school district. It is being modeled on a similar floor plan for Summit Elementary in east Casper.

It will replace one of the older school buildings in the district. Mills Elementary, 420 Second St., which suffers from numerous infrastructure problems, Christopherson said. For example, the only hot water in the building is in a closet used by custodians, he said.