On Aug. 6, about 445 Lewiston Lions will march into their new elementary school.
The final paving is now being done to prepare Columbia County's newest elementary school, the first since Euchee Creek and Greenbrier elementary schools opened their doors in 1996.
Set on 18 acres on Hereford Farm Road, the 66,925-square-foot-building features 34 classrooms, including music, art and indoor physical-education rooms.
The style of the school is similar to Euchee Creek and Greenbrier, with the exception of a hall that circles around the commons/stage area.
Principal Mike Doolittle will move from Belair Elementary School, which was built in 1968 and is the county's second-oldest, to a school with the smell of fresh paint. For him, it's not just the newness of the school that is exciting; it's also that fact that he, his 65 staff members and pupils will write a new chapter in county history.
Jody Scott unloads items for her third-grade classroom at Lewston Elementary in preparation for the school's first year of operation.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"We've got students coming from Riverside, Martinez, Westmont, Evans, Brookwood, Belair and North Columbia - seven schools in all - so we will have quite a mix," Doolittle said. "It will be neat blending all these students together. We don't have any history, so we will be making our own history."
With its pale blue walls and accents of navy blue, crimson red, forest green and maize yellow, the school is one of the system's most colorful. Hallways are color-coded.
"I think it's going to be a warm, caring, friendly environment - very inviting," Doolittle said.
Prospective pupils and staff were responsible for picking out the school's mascot, the lion.
"You get to build your own climate, set your own traditions," said Doolittle.
Teachers started moving in boxes in May, but unpacking began in earnest in July. Media specialist Cindy Beaty has had her hands full arranging the school's 5,400 books on the shelves of the media center.
The school opened for business Thursday with all Columbia County schools. One perk for parents: the school likely will offer a before- and after-school program.
If there is a dark cloud to the otherwise rosy prospect of opening a new school, it is the playgrounds. The school will have three playgrounds - one for pre-kindergarten through first grade, one for second and third grade and one for fourth and fifth grade. The problem is, tax dollars can't be used to buy playground equipment, which can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $28,000 per prefabricated unit. It's up to the school's fledgling Parent Teacher Organization to raise the money.
"Our PTO is working feverishly to come up with fundraisers to buy the playground equipment," Doolittle said. "It's going to take a lot of community support to get the school and playground done the way we want to get them done. It's going to be a major expense for us to put the playground in."
There will also be an athletic field and track, and Doolittle is hoping in the future to have an outdoor classroom underneath the giant oak trees at the school's entrance.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.