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Published 10:36 am Tuesday, August 22, 2017

GATESVILLE – The countdown is on for the start of the 2017-18 academic year within Gates County Public Schools.

For the students and staff at the county’s five public schools, the beginning of any new school year is met with anticipation and a fresh start. While campus life at Buckland Elementary, Gatesville Elementary, Gates County High School and T.S. Cooper Elementary is basically unchanged, students, parents and staff at Central Middle School will denote numerous differences there as a major renovation/new construction plan is about to get underway.

“The beginning of a new school year is approaching quickly as we get ready for the start of school, our custodial staff and maintenance staff from the district have been working diligently to help get all of our schools clean and ready to open for another exciting school year,” said Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent of Gates County Public Schools.

The new academic year for teachers began yesterday (Monday) with the annual Convocation  at the Performing Arts Center at the high school.

Students return to class on Monday, Aug. 28.

Dr. Williams talked about the major changes in store at Central Middle School and how they will impact students, staff and parents for 2017-18.

“Our Central Middle School campus will look differently as we prepare for the demolition of the entire 8th grade building and gymnasium,” he said. “Before the demolition can occur, the entire 8th grade building and gymnasium will be permanently closed and secured with a fence around the perimeter. Demolition is expected to occur later this winter and construction to begin shortly after the demolition.”

Steve Hunter, Principal at Central Middle School, commented, “with in-depth planning, we developed a plan to keep all of our students on campus during the demolition and building process. With that in mind, I would like to inform you of the new changes that will take place for the upcoming school year.”

Those changes include:

6th and 7th grade teachers/students will operate as usual in their respective classrooms/halls/grade level wings etc;

Two additional mobile units have been set up on campus and they will house 8th grade reading and math classes;

Two pre existing mobile units will be utilized for 8th grade science and social studies classes;

The main/primary entrance to the building will be located through the side doors of the cafeteria;

The secretary/receptionist will be stationed in the new part of the cafeteria area;

The waiting area for parents will be located in the cafeteria area near the secretary;

The media center/library is now temporarily located near the 7th grade hall/wing;

The guidance counselor office will be located on the sixth grade hall;

The office for the school nurse will be located in the guidance counselor’s office;

The office for the principal and assistant principal will be located on the 6th grade hall;

Students will continue to eat breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria;

Students who ride buses will be dismissed to their buses promptly at 3:10 p.m. daily, and afternoon call riders will be dismissed at 3:25 (all students will be dismissed through the cafeteria area);

Parents who pick up their children in the afternoons will be directed to a new traffic pattern starting at the main entrance of the campus;

Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.) will continue from 8:05-8:20 am; and

The school’s open door policy will continue, which means parents will have the ability to eat lunch with his or her child or to visit the classroom and observe the child receiving instruction from the teacher etc.

“We ask all Central Middle School family members to endure the changes mentioned above to ensure another great school year,” said Hunter.

Meanwhile, The following is an update of the progress at Central Middle School by Johnnie Greene, Director of Maintenance for Gates County Public Schools, gave an update on the progress of the plan to upgrade Central Middle School.

Greene said a temporary wall for the new main entrance has been built and has been painted. A canopy has been ordered for the main entrance and it is scheduled to be installed before the first day of school.  Windows will also be installed in the main entrance doors for safety.

He added that the temporary offices for principal and assistant principal have been completed, and that the Media room is complete and all data systems have been relocated with the exception of new fiber for the Internet and phone system.  The new fiber was scheduled to be installed by Century Link the week of Aug. 14.

Greene stated that Albemarle Fence has started the installation of the construction fence at Central Middle on Aug. 4 and that work has been completed.

The new waterline for the sixth and seventh grade building is complete, and the service road going behind the school has been widened for the new traffic pattern, Greene said.  This area will be used to stage vehicles arriving on campus early in the afternoon for student pick-up.

He added that the two mobile classrooms have been installed for additional classroom space and existing trailers are being reorganized for additional classroom space.

Maintenance staff has relocated additional lockers for eighth grade use.   

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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