New middle school breaks ground

Tia Lynn Ivey Featured, News

The last piece to create a $46 million consolidated school campus is underway with Morgan County School officials breaking ground on the construction of the new middle school. The new middle school is set to be completed in December of 2019, erected on the site of the old high school. The consolidated campus will feature the new middle school along side the already completed new high school, College and Career Academy, and Transportation facility.

School leaders gathered on Monday, Dec. 10 to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for the new middle school.

According to school officials, the new middle school will “provide an exemplary learning environment that is developmentally responsive to the academic and personal growth of all students.”

Superintendent Dr. James Woodard spoke and Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony, praising the cooperation and collaboration of the community on this project.

“It’s been wonderful—the willingness of the community to move the middle school from its current location to provide a unified campus for all schools,” said Dr. Woodard. “While this day represents excitement, promise, enthusiasm—feelings of fear, risk, extra work, disappointment and challenges also exist. It’s a roller coaster of emotions as we go through this building project. There are many more conversations to occur through what I call ‘the ugly part’ of construction, where it becomes reality. Traffic patterns change, dust, noise, and disruption of the routine—these things will happen. This day also represents the many days still ahead of us of planning and collaboration to make the new middle school a reality in a little less than a year from now.”

But Woodard stressed that the payoff at the end will be worth it. “I stand here before you today, here we are. The fun is just about to begin,” said Woodard.

“This day represents the initial beginning of your departure from your old school building into a new home that will serve the students of Morgan County for a long, long time,” said Woodard.

“A personal thanks to everyone who played a part in this venture,” closed Woodard.

“This day represents, most importantly, the awesome learning opportunities that will occur in each classrooms provided by the classroom teachers,” said Woodard. “This day represents the initial beginning of your departure from your old school building into a new home that will serve the students of Morgan County for a long, long time. A personal thanks to everyone who played a part in this venture,” closed Woodard.

Monday’s event featured a variety of speakers, including a young MCMS student, Jordan Moon, who is thrilled to be among the first students to attend the new middle school next year.

“I am so excited for the opportunity to move into a new middle school next year. Being the youngest person here, I feel that I have one of the greatest responsibilities, for I represent the start of new traditions while honoring the rich history that is embodied in Morgan County Middle School, formerly known as Pearl High School…There will be challenges, I mean let’s face it, it’s middle school, but my classmates are being given the gift of a new building with advanced technologies and state-of-the-art facilities to prepare ourselves for high school and beyond.”

“We are One Morgan,” said Moon, who promised that she and her classmates will make school leaders, family members, and the community proud.

One of the MCMS’s former principals, Rev. Alfred Murray, also spoke at Monday’s ceremony.

“I have spent most of my life at MCMS,” joked Murray, who attended the middle school as a child back when it was called Pearl Street High. Murray returned to the middle school after college to teach before he eventually became the assistant principal and then finally the principal of the entire school for 19 years.

“I am excited and proud to be here today,” said Murray. “I understand at some point there was some disagreement about the middle school being moved and I don’t mind broaching that today. But the decision was made and I want you to know I was supportive of that move.

I want to commend you today for the good job that you did,” said Murray to school leaders.

“I hope you feel excitement coming from me today. I am so excited that I can hardly contain myself about this move. I am also proud of the courage of this BOE and superintendent. I am proud of those folks who labored long and hard at Morgan County Middle School and continue to do so. You follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before you. I am proud of the students who have gone through and go out in the world and are doing all kinds of good things to represent Morgan County. So today I am honored with the invitation. I am excited about the possibilities that stand before us. And I am proud that Morgan County still places education as number one. May God bless you and may He keep you.”

Nelson Hale, the Morgan County Board of Education Chairman, noted that new middle school requires tearing down the old high school building, calling the moment a bittersweet reality, but a necessary one for the future of education in Morgan County.

“We all have mixed emotions about the building coming down behind us…But we are excited for the opportunities this present to the students and to the teachers at the Middle school and we are really looking forward to getting this underway…I want to say a thank you to Dr. Woodard and his leadership and vision with this,” began Hale. “On behalf of the entre board we are thankful for Principal Hillary Meeler and her entire staff and all the different councils involved in this and many in the business community and community at large that helped with this.”

State Representative Dave Belton looked further in the past to recognize the efforts of former superintendents Ralph Bennett and Pat Stokes for paving the way toward building new schools. He credited their fiscally-sound leadership as enabling the current board of education to take on this project.

“I just wanted to comment on the courage of the BOE. Y’all got this thing done,” said Belton. “We talked about this for a long, long time but this group of young men and women got it done. I am really proud of all of you.”

Bob Hughes, chairman of the College and Career Academy (CCA) and President of the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce, described the new CCA as a vital component to expanding Morgan County’s workforce.

“This will ensure Morgan County will have top quality people who are working in our industries so we can continue to grow, said Hughes.

Woodard implored the crowd to look ahead, for the future of education in Morgan County is bright.

“We are here today and the fun has only just beginning,” said Woodard.

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