Earth moves for education
WINDSOR – They’ve turned the soil.
For many, that was an inspirational journey Tuesday afternoon as local county officials broke ground for a new Bertie High School. For others, they are waiting to see bricks and mortar.
More than 10 years ago the leaders of Bertie County also gathered to break ground on the building of a new high school. That project was foiled and ended in a new Bertie Middle School.
“On behalf of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners, we want to thank the public and the dignitaries that are here for such a glorious occasion,” Bertie County Commission Chairman L.C. Hoggard III said.
Bertie County Board of Education Chair Gloria C. Lee also welcomed those gathered.
“This truly is a blessed event,” Lee said. “It may be cool and the air is chilled, but there are many warm hearts as we celebrate this special moment.”
Lee thanked the commissioners for their tireless work and the school board for their spirit of commitment.
“This is another day that goes down in Bertie County history and we bless God for that,” she said. “We are so delighted we have been allowed this opportunity; that God orchestrated this very day that we can walk from this side of the road to the other side of the road to commemorate the building of a brand new high school.”
Commissioner Norman Cherry said he has been excited about the project for months. He compared his feeling to a parent waiting on the birth of a child or a child waiting on the arrival of Santa Claus.
Cherry then recognized the remainder of the board of commissioners – Vice Chairman J. Wallace Perry and board members Charles L. Smith and Rick Harrell. Lee acknowledged the presence of Board of Education Vice Chair Emma Johnson as well as board members Alton Parker and Rickey Freeman.
Freeman talked about his excitement for the groundbreaking program.
“This is the second time we have done this and a lot of people are dejected about that, but this is God’s time,” Freeman said. “He worked it out in His time.”
Hoggard then came back to the podium and recognized former Commissioner Patricia Ferguson for her leadership in working toward the building. He also remembered the late J. Jasper Bazemore, a former commissioner who passed away.
The commissioner also talked about the fact it was the second ground breaking.
“We have done this before and until I see bricks and walls going up…this is a good ceremony,” he said. “It doesn’t mean anything until the building is up.”
Joyce Mitchell, the Community Outreach Director for Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) was also in attendance.
“What is more important today is I am a 1975 graduate of Bertie High School – a very proud Falcon,” Mitchell said.
“It is indeed an honor and pleasure to bring you greetings on behalf of Senator Hagan,” she continued. “She serves on the Senate Education Committee so you can imagine this is very important to her and very important to her heart.”
Cherry recognized the officials in the county and the incoming Bertie County Commissioners – Ronald D. Wesson and John Trent.
Bertie County Manager Morris Rascoe said it was a great day.
“What a great day this is and it has been a long time coming,” Rascoe said. “As you can see and hear from the noise, the machinery across the street is at work.”
Bertie County Superintendent of Schools Elaine White was part of the original ceremony as principal of Bertie High.
“This is a great day,” White said. “I give honor to all of our distinguished guests.
“This is déjà vu for me too,” she said. “Ten years ago – May 20, 2002 – I stood probably in this very spot as part of the groundbreaking ceremony for the first new Bertie High School.
“I feel like this is déjà vu except for one thing,” she said. “It didn’t happen then, but I do believe – and I don’t have to see a brick –it is going to happen this time.”
Bertie High School Principal Calvin Moore and Bertie STEM High School Principal Deborah Carroll were also part of the program.
“We are happy and excited about the new thing that is happening here and all the great things that will be available to our students and families of Bertie County,” Carroll said.
“This groundbreaking ceremony is far more than the literal breaking of ground,” Moore said. “This ceremony represents 21st century learning that requires a state-of-the-art facility that will meet the evolving needs of our high school learners as well as those of a dedicated faculty and staff.”
BHS junior Kierra Craig also spoke and said she was excited about the new school and what it would mean for the future of the county.
Architect Jimmy Hite congratulated the county on the building of the new school.
“On behalf of Hite Associates, the architects and all the designers we congratulate the commissioners and school board for doing a really good job,” he said. “This school, I want to assure you, is second to none.”
Kevin Rawls, President of WIMCO, the general contractor, had good news.
“The bricks and mortar are on the way,” he told the crowd. “We are honored to be part of this project. We have built an exact replica of this project with perfect quality and on-time construction. We make a commitment to you to deliver it on time and with perfect quality.”
Following the speeches, the crowd moved across the street to the property that will house the new Bertie High School and officially broke ground.