CLAXTON - A cotton field behind Claxton Elementary School is the canvas for a new 89,000 square-foot facility, soon to be home to Evans County middle school students.
Excited board members each held a gold shovel Sunday afternoon during the ceremonial ground breaking for the new Claxton Middle School slated for completion on July 6, 2012.
A crowd of about 40 people gathered in the field directly behind Claxton Elementary, where the new school will stand facing Hendrix Street.
The plan is to make the transition into the new building during the summer of 2012 and have the school ready to begin the new school year, said Dr. Joy Collins, superintendant.
Collins welcomed the group Sunday, including Sen. Jack Hill, who offered his words of support.
"These are tough days for school systems," said Hill, "especially rural school systems. The school board has scrimped and scraped to save up local funds for this project so they can provide the best education possible for Evans County students."
The state is providing about 35 percent of the $10 million budget, Hill told the Statesboro Herald, but local funds make up the rest.
Hill has kept his finger on the state budget throughout the planning to make sure those funds are there when the board needs them, he said.
Architectural building plans, available for viewing Sunday, detailed the 89,000 square-foot school, which includes three wings for classrooms, a gym with a weight room, a large cafeteria, and a media center much nicer than the existing one, said Collins.
"It is a very modern facility," said Hill, "capable of serving 300-400 students."
The existing middle school was built in 1921, said Collins. The North College Street location then underwent expansion in the '40s, the '50s, and again in the '60s, she said.
The new project has been in the planning stages for several years now, said Collins. With plans in place and the ground breaking underway, the new middle school is much closer to becoming a reality.
Collins and the board will be working alongside Mike Parker, architect with SP Design out of Macon.
"I am quite excited about our endeavor to have a new middle school," Principal Diane Holland said Tuesday in an interview with the Statesboro Herald.
"We are looking forward to the building process to move along as planned," she said, "and look forward to moving into the building as it has been slated for fall 2012."
Those present for the ground breaking enjoyed refreshments and were offered the opportunity to view building plans and stroll the cotton field where the school will one day stand