08/08/14 — Officials break ground on new middle schools

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Officials break ground on new middle schools

By Ethan Smith and Steve Herring
Published in News on August 8, 2014 1:46 PM

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Wayne County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor kicks off the groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of the Spring Creek Middle School.

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Breanna Mozingo, 7, future student at Grantham Middle School, participates in the groundbreaking for her new school.

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Wayne County Commissioners, from left, Joe Daughtery and Ray Mayo, talk with George Thigpen, a representative from the architectural firm SfL+a, at the Spring Creek Middle School groundbreaking.

Wayne County officials broke ground Thursday for two new middle schools residents have hoped for -- for years.

Mark Hood has been part of the Grantham community for 71 years. Now, he is finally going to see a new Grantham Middle School built for grades six through eight.

"The community has been very patient in considering all the other needs across the county," Hood said at the groundbreaking. "But we're finally getting a facility we feel good about for our children."

After the golden shovels had tilled the first bit of dirt, contractors got to work immediately.

A few hours later, a groundbreaking was held in the Seven Springs area for a new Spring Creek Middle School.

Tanya Grady, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Spring Creek Middle School, who was among those on hand for the event, said she is very excited about the prospect of a new school for a lot of reasons.

"For us, the teachers, we all look forward to having a new facility, updated modern things coming into it just like it was at the elementary when we switched and went over there," she said.

But she is excited for the students as well to have their own school. Currently, the middle and high schools share a nearby campus.

"We do try to separate and try to function on a high school basis every day and a middle school basis every day, but there are a lot of times that our middle schoolers kind of get left out, or are not able to do what other middle schools in the county are able to do just because of facilities."

The road to get the projects under way wasn't always smooth.

In Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor's speech at the Grantham ceremony, he said this is the first of two new schools to be built in the Wayne County district since the year 2000.

"It took a little longer to fund it than expected. We've had to have some rough conversations at times, Mr. Daughtery," Taylor said looking at County Commissioner Joe Daughtery, referring to several heated debates with commissioners over the years. "But we've managed to be able to build this without increasing taxes on our citizens."

One of the more prominent features of the new school will be the auditorium.

"There's an auditorium included in this design, which will not only advance the arts, but will also create a gathering space for the community," Taylor said.

Some community members were less than optimistic about whether or not the school would ever be built.

"This has been a long time coming," said John Grantham, chairman of the county Board of Education. "There were some in the community that said, when we put the sign up on the site, that the sign would rot before the school was ever built."

Taylor said eventually the two boards were able to "handle it like adults" to reach a common goal and to put aside their differences. He said the need for a new school was apparent, and the meetings to accomplish building the school had been difficult.

Commissioner Wayne Aycock was quick to dismiss the notion that either board had claimed a victory over one another by the school being built.

"The children that will attend this school are the real winners here," Aycock said.

Mrs. Grady is particularly excited about her school's planned auditorium.

"That, I think, will be fabulous," she said. "We are looking forward to that for our musical part of their curriculum, for having meetings with our parents, for our eighth-grade graduation ceremony."

She also likes that the school will make its own schedule.

"We don't have to rely on the high school schedule and build around it," she said. "Testing will be much easier."

School board member Arnold Flowers, whose district the school is in, said some people thought the day would never arrive that the school would be built.

Flowers said he appreciates commissioners working with the school board on the new schools at Spring Creek and Grantham, particularly allowing them to have auditoriums. Those will be convenient for people in the area, he said.