Grovetown Middle School's 415 pupils will start the new year at a new school Friday.
"We've got a school to open!," said Principal Carolyn Fries a week before school was set to start. "Every day you can go in and see one more thing that's been completed. It's going to come in and it's going to be great."
Before the holidays, school officials sent out notices to parents, including maps of the new school, drop off and pick up directions and transportation schedules for bus riders.
The first day of school, Ms. Fries said, will be devoted to acclimating the students to their new environment.
"Our first day, since it's a Friday, we are going to dedicate that day to having the students take a tour of the building. Their homeroom teachers will take them into the classroom and give them an introduction to the second semester then a tour of their hall areas," Ms. Fries said.
Each of the classroom wings is color coded and was named by the school's student council. The sixth-grade hall is red and will be called Liberty Lane; the seventh-grade hall is green and will be called Justice Junction; the eighth grade hall is blue and is named Freedom Freeway; and the connections hall (band, chorus, art and physical eduction) is red, white and blue and will be called Patriots Parkway.
After the tours will be the dedication ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. The pupils will gather around the flagpole at 10:30 a.m., where the flag will be raised for the first time over the new school. The flag is one U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood had had flown over the U.S. Capitol.
"I think they will be impressed when they first walk into the building with the commons area, stage and lunchroom where we can hold dances and events. When they see the gym, that big open area is such a change from that cafeteria (at Harlem Middle School)," Ms. Fries said.
The school's teachers got a tour of the new building before the holidays began, and all of them have been busy setting up their classrooms.
"The kids are probably just going to fall out when they see it," Ms. Fries said. "Right before the holidays the teachers had the opportunity to see it for first time. It's an incredible building."
The Columbia County school system will be making history when Grovetown Middle - "The home of the Patriots" - opens its doors Friday. It will be the first time the system has executed a mid-year school opening. Pupils began the year at Harlem Middle School, where Grovetown pupils and teachers have been housed in portable classrooms.
When school resumes, Grovetown Middle will break away from Harlem Middle, a fact that is bittersweet for pupils who have gone to the same school together for years and teachers who will be leaving their old school. On the last day of class, Ms. Fries said, pupil representatives from each school sent their best wishes over the intercom.
"They've been friends forever and they will continue to be friends. Some teachers have been teaching in that building for 15 years. There was a lot of mixed emotions that last school day," Ms. Fries said.
School buses will use the first entrance coming out of Grovetown, while automobile traffic will use the second entrance.
When pupils enter the building, they will wait in the commons area until the homeroom bell rings at 7:25 a.m.
The bus transportation routes will remain the same and pick-up times will remain the same, though after-school drop-off times may be shorter.
School hours will remain the same, starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 2:35 a.m.
The dedication ceremony for Grovetown Middle School - Columbia County's seventh middle school - will be Friday, Jan. 3, at 10 a.m. at the school at 5463 Harlem-Grovetown Road.
Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau will give the invocation, andMs. Fries will welcome guests.
County Board of Education Chairman Wayne Bridges will give the greeting, and Superintendent Tommy Price will perform the dedication. Woodmen of the World will present school officials with new flags. Board members will perform the ribbon cutting, which will be followed by the flag-raising ceremony conducted by the Harlem High School Junior ROTC and the Pledge of Allegiance.
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