The halls of Stallings Island Middle School are empty now. In 12 days, however, the new school will be teeming with pupils when the 2008-09 school year begins.
Stallings Island, the Columbia County school system's eighth middle school, is opening in August. There will be a dedication ceremony at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The Blackstone Camp Road facility is Columbia County's only two-story school.
In addition, principal Don Putnam said proudly, "We've got the only elevator in any of the schools in Columbia County."
Putnam, the former Riverside Middle School principal, is ready for the new year to begin.
"I'm excited about having the opportunity to put together a school, develop new traditions. School culture is just so, so important in education. What an exciting challenge to be a part of creating a positive school culture," said Putnam.
He said he expects the school to develop a "challenging learning environment with high student expectations."
Although Stallings Island will not open with all of the "bells and whistles" found at Riverside Middle, he said, fundraising efforts are underway.
"One of the big things that falls on the shoulders of the school is putting together the athletic program. You want to have a program that is as viable as the school they're coming from," said Putnam.
He said the PTO and boosters club are raising money for athletic uniforms, technology and landscaping.
Last week, new football uniforms and helmets were spread out neatly on the gymnasium floor. The uniforms matched the red and gold in the gym, where a painting of a Red Hawk, the school mascot, occupies the center of the basketball court.
All of the classrooms have LCD projectors and computers, Putnam said, but the PTO also is trying to raise money to purchase active white boards.
"We've certainly had to prioritize what we wanted to open the building with," he said.
Putnam said the media center, which overlooks the cafeteria, is his favorite place.
"Even as a kid, I was always attracted to the library," he said.
The computer stations are waiting for pupils, and the shelves are lined with new books.
Putnam said the entire staff has helped get the building ready for the first day of school.
"People want to come and be here," he said. "When people want to come to work, and kids want to come to school, good things happen."
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