By Leanne Lawrence, NHCS Director of Facility Planning & Construction
New pencils? Check.
New backpack? Check.
New elementary school? Check!
Parents, while you’ve been busy checking off your list of back-to-school items, New Hanover County Schools has been busy checking off our own list! The last few months have been exciting as our contractors put the finishing touches on new buildings and additions. We can’t wait for you to see what has been prepared for your students!
Porters Neck Elementary School is the newest addition to the New Hanover County Schools family of facilities. We’re proud to open the doors to receive students from Blair Elementary School who will call Porters Neck home for the next three years while Blair receives an “extreme school makeover”. Demolition of the existing Blair Elementary will begin later this month, with construction of the new building starting right on its heels.
Blair students will be greeted by their new principal, Rebecca Higgins-Opgrand, as she guides them through spaces filled with vibrant color and ample natural light. Sails suspended in the entryway, or the “gallery” as we like to call it, seek to inspire students to harness the power of education, just as seagoing vessels channel the energy of the wind.
Principal Maria Madison and her outstanding Wise Leaders from “The Park” – College Park Elementary School – will be receiving their own school makeover.
Demolition for College Park Elementary School is also scheduled to begin this month, with construction to be completed in the summer of 2019. Similar to Blair, the new College Park Elementary School will be constructed on its current site, once demolition of the existing building is complete. While the existing school is being removed and the new one constructed, students and staff of The Park will be safely nested at their temporary school site located at 5301 Sidbury Road. They’ll resume classes at their new campus in the fall of 2019.
The hearts of Laney and Hoggard high school students will swell with pride at the sight of their new gymnasiums. With seating capacities of 1,600 at both facilities, fans will enjoy watching their favorite teams compete in these state-of-the art venues. In addition, athletes will enjoy the use of the new locker rooms and support spaces, including a renovated weight training room at Laney and new fitness classroom at Hoggard.
The new media center at Laney is certain to inspire students to create, collaborate, and exceed expectations. Totaling 11,100 square feet, the space is comprised of individual and group study areas, as well as a café/ lounge seating area. With WiFi points throughout, students can access the technology they need to facilitate their educational endeavors.
At Hoggard, the cafeteria has been expanded to serve the growing student population. Individual kiosks are stationed around the cafeteria offering options for breakfast and lunch against the backdrop of designs influenced and inspired by the ocean, the natural habitat of the modern Viking.
New Hanover High School, we didn’t forget about you! We’re pleased to share that Brogden Hall now has air conditioning. In addition, as part of the 2014 Bond Referendum, the George West building received renovations to approximately 41,200 square feet of classroom space, including the band room, shop classes, science classrooms, as well as the ROTC building. We’re also in the process of completing improvements to the cafeteria serving line.
Numerous other repairs and renovations occurred throughout the district, such as roof replacements at Carolina Beach and Pine Valley Elementary Schools and heating and air conditioning improvements at Johnson Pre-K, Bradley Creek Elementary, and Veterans Park. We’ve also added a new Northern Transportation Division, near the temporary site for College Park Elementary School at Sidbury Road. From this new facility, school buses will serve students living in the northern region of the county.
These behind-the-scenes upgrades rarely make the headlines, but they do make the educational experience better for all. They also help improve the energy efficiency of the facilities and overall district operations.
In the midst of all of these facility changes and improvements, we hope that the warm smiles and friendly hellos from NHCS staff members shine the brightest as we welcome students to begin the 2017-18 school year. WELCOME BACK!