By Collin Brooks
If the large contingency under a tent on a 90-degree day didn’t show you the importance of a new Boones Creek K-8, then the smiling faces on politicians, school officials and children certainly told the tale.
They all gathered at the 50-plus acre site of the new Boones Creek K-8 on Monday, nestled on the corner of Boones Creek Road and Highland Church Road, to officially toss the first shovels of dirt that have been years in the making.
“I am so very blessed to be a part of this and I know the school board feel the same way,” Washington County Director of Schools Halliburton said. “It’s exciting and I am going to say that word a lot. But it truly is for our community. A new school can be transformative to a community and I truly believe that this is the beginning of the transformation of our school district.
“This is the beginning piece of the Washington Way, which will make our school system even better.”
Current and former school officials, including Mary Lo Silvers and former Washington County Director of Schools Ron Dykes, enjoyed the activities, which started with comments from Halliburton, Washington County Board of Education Chairman Jack Leonard and Washington County Commission Chairman Greg Matherly. Then the contingency moved on to the ceremonial moving of dirt.
Students were also included throughout the ceremony, being praised by all three speakers, before dawning small hardhats and child-sized shovels to move the earth. Emilia Hale is only 8 years old, but she is already looking forward to her days as a fifth grader, roaming the new school when it opens in 2019. A big smile displayed her excitement to see the school begin construction.
“I am really excited,” she said. “And I am excited for all the other people that will get to attend the school too.”
Boones Creek Elementary Principal J.W. McKinney said the community is definitely buzzing with construction activity finally getting underway. McKinney is entering his second year as principal at the elementary school, but he served in both schools for six years in different capacities.
“The parents are thrilled that Boones Creek is getting a new school,” McKinney said. “They are just really happy that it is happening. After all the years of talking about it and talking at county commission meetings. It’s finally coming to fruition and we are all just very thankful for that.”
Boones Creek Middle School Principal Mike Edmonds is another man that was pleased to see the long process of fighting for the school pay off. He said that seeing the community he calls home finally get the school they’ve needed for so long is all he needs to show that big smile that has made him a family favorite.
“What I am excited about is that the school is being built and it’s being built for the kids in this community,” Edmonds said. “Parents are getting a quality place for their children to go, where our students can be proud of their facility and walk into their gym and they won’t see a gym that is smaller than any other gym in Washington County.”
That seemed to be a punch in the gut to many community members, as their home-court would be greeted with eye-rolls from their opponents due to how small it is. Now, opponents’ eyes will light up when they see the state-of-the-art facility.
“It will be a facility that our kids can be proud of and a facility that our community will cherish. It will be an icon where it is being built, sitting in those fields,” said Edmonds through a smile, before noting it’s been a long and emotional road to this point.
It took time from three different Superintendents to get the job done, starting with Grant Rowland. His thoughts were carried on by Dykes, who laid the foundation for the new school by discussing the need passionately and loudly for years. And after her first year on the job, Halliburton will see the construction through.
Many will be glad to see the old school gone, but some will have mixed feelings as they see a building that started as Boones Creek High School molded into something else.
“To that part of the community, there is a different meaning to it, because they see their high school now being closed and wonder about the future of the facility,” Edmonds said. “But at the same time, they have grandchildren or friends with grandchildren that will be attending the new school. So there are mixed emotions there.”
There is also a lot of history in the hallways of the Boones Creek Middle School that was built in 1939 as Boones Creek High School. After all, that is the place where Daniel Boone Hall of Famer Basketball Coach Bobby Snyder got his start. Many decades ago, the school which was just off a two-lane road; was the main election hub and the largest precinct in Washington County.
While the walls and location will change, Boones Creek will have a renewed brightness as a beacon of the Washington County community.