If all the people who deserve credit for the opening last week of the new Grovetown Middle School, one man stands at the head of the line: the citys mayor, Dennis Trudeau.
For years Trudeau has pestered anybody who would listen about the need for a middle school to serve the Grovetown area. He could see the tremendous growth trends in his city and knew a new school was a necessity.
But it wasnt Grovetowns growth so much as Harlem Middle Schools cramped capacity that led to last weeks opening. State officials wont release construction funds until the population is already there to justify a new school; communities must already have excess students crammed into other schools before a new school can relieve the overcrowding.
As a result, Harlem was nearly bursting at the seams when school officials last year made a bold move: Create Grovetown Middle within the walls of Harlem Middle, with parallel administration, staff and student bodies, while construction of Grovetown Middle began. Then, on an accelerated schedule, build for those Grovetown kids a campus that would open in the middle of the school year.
That mid-point deadline hit last Friday, and with it came the long-anticipated opening of Grovetown Middle School.
This is really a great day. As a matter of fact, its a fantastic day, said a beaming Trudeau, on hand to dedicate the facility. It took us 14 years to get here.
There were some rough spots on the road to the opening, not the least of which were frayed nerves among School Board members as trustee Lee Muns publicly hammered School Superintendent Tommy Price and the projects architect with doubts about the facilitys on-time completion.
Thanks to around-the-clock work from LPS construction crews and county staff, the doors opened as scheduled. There is plenty of work to be finished, especially in the gym; still, the nick-of-time opening validated the fast construction pace - though Price admits, Quite frankly, Ill never do this again.
Harlem Middle students now have plenty of elbow room, and Grovetown Middle has space to grow, too. Itll need it; already, the school is surrounded, like the Greenbrier school complex, with sites for new developments - which, thanks to Trudeau, were long ago annexed into the Grovetown city limits.
Congratulations to Principal Carolyn Fries on the successful opening of her new school. And kudos to Mayor Trudeau for foresight and persistence.
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