VANCEBURG — The wait for students and teachers alike is becoming shorter and shorter, as construction crews continue to work on the new elementary school in Lewis County.
With less than a year until the new Lewis County Central Elementary School will be complete for children grades pre kindergarten-sixth to begin their classes, Superintendent Jamie Weddington highlighted many of the features the new school will provide to the kids.
According to Weddington, the old Central Elementary, the school this current project will replace, was built around the 1930s, and received a number of expansions over time. With the current school having aged to such an extent, the decision to build a new facility was made.
“We’ve got upgrades to the HVAC system, also upgrades to the technology, to the lighting, to all of those aspects from a building that part of it was wired back in in the 1930s” Weddington said, referring to the improvements to be added to the new school
Once finished, the new school will contain three classrooms for each grade, including pre-school and two FMD special education rooms which will serve the entire school district for elementary school students. An art room, library and media center, enrichment room and science lab will also be included.
Classrooms will be divided between two floors and a third floor mezzanine. An elevator will be installed for those who are disabled as well as for general use.
“One of the unique features that it does have is that there will be a ‘social staircase,’” Weddington said, “and it’s kind of modeled from the new UK student center.”
Weddington said he has learned quite a bit from the experience of overseeing construction of the facility, especially about unusually specific construction regulations.
“The art room in an elementary school is supposed to be in a north, south facing classroom, now we had to apply for the waiver, because there are no north, south facing classrooms in this entire building — they’re all facing east and west because of the restrictions on the land.”
Weddington said among the workers on the construction project, around 11-12 of them at any given time are members of the community.
Josh White, one of the construction workers for the project has lived in Lewis County his whole life. His daughter, Carly White, will be attending the fifth grade at the new school once it is completed.
“She’s going to be excited,” White said. “We’re excited to see her come in here and it’s going to broaden a lot of stuff for her.”
White says it is a great feeling working on on a project for his community that will serve and bridge generations to come.
“It’s almost like a sense of pride, in a way. To say you had something to do with, especially since I grew up here. I’ve got 30-40 years here in Lewis County, and to say you helped work along the new school that’s going to become something probably for grandchildren is great.”
Weddington says the response among elementary school teachers is a mixture of excitement and anticipation for the finished product. Kala Switzer, third grade teacher at Central Elementary took a tour of the new school in progress, and what she saw was nothing short of a marked improvement.
“It’s going to be so much larger, it’s so much better laid out — it’s going to make the building flow so much better,” Switzer said
Switzer has seen the progress of the school’s construction since the day workers began breaking ground, as she could see the building take from from the window of her classroom.
“We’ll be able to lay out such better groups and make the flow for our classes where we travel,” she said. “Where I have math, we can lay out our classrooms, and they’re going to flow so much better.”
According to Principal Stacy Kidwell, even the students are excited to begin classes in the new building.
“They’ve been very excited,” she said. “We were able to take all of our students over to the ground-breaking, since it’s right in our back door, and Trace Construction got them all construction hats and they were all so excited. Some were disappointed because they thought we were actually going to start working on the building that day.”
Kidwell says the greatest part about waiting for the construction project to finish was being able to see the progress right across from the old school. The kids, she added, also better appreciate the progress as opposed to looking at an image of what it will look like.