New Pulaski County Middle School prepares to open for academic year

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 10:59 PM EDT
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PULASKI, Va. (WDBJ) - Pulaski County Middle School students have been long awaiting the arrival of their brand-new building.

Now, it is almost ready to open, and we got a tour inside.

It’s a construction project that’s been in the works about 18 months. Crews are putting the finishing touches on it, to have students inside by the end of September.

Only a handful of areas are still off limits, but this school year, students will be greeted with an open floor plan, full of natural light.

“It’s emotional, it really is,” said school board chairman Timmy Hurst. “In a small community like this, to do something like this is really quite remarkable.”

The new Pulaski Middle School took years to bring together. After a referendum passed in 2017 with a two-thirds majority, it started to become a reality.

“I don’t think anyone who has stepped foot into either of our middle schools would doubt that it was needed,” said Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers.

Countless times, lack of AC was to blame for early dismissals at Dublin Middle and Pulaski Middle, but that’s no longer a problem.

“When I taught at the middle school years ago, we always wished we had a newer building, so this is exciting to see this many years later,” said now school principal Rebecah Smith.

Some of the biggest highlights on our tour include the wide-open cafeteria, separate wings for each grade and triangular-shaped desks already physically distanced.

“Even though we have these other challenges, we will still forge forward with providing a good education for our students,” Smith said.

The art room also has an outdoor patio, and a fitness center is an option for students who may not want to participate in gym class.

“The act of getting into a new school, consolidating two schools and opening a new one is a pretty significant accomplishment in and of itself,” Siers said. “The fact that it has been done during a pandemic makes it all the more exceptional.”

It’s a $47 million project that’s planned to come in just at or slightly under budget.

“We’re just excited to have kids coming back to school in Pulaski County and it’s just really exciting to have them come back to this school,” Hurst said.

Rooms will feature state-of-the-art technology with Promethean boards that do not require overhead projectors like Smart Boards.

“There’s nothing like it definitely in Southwest Virginia and probably the state of Virginia,” Siers said.

The other middle schools are being used for storage and slowly being cleaned out. Siers said the district will work to auction off some equipment and furniture. Once the buildings are cleared out, the county will take over the properties and determine what to do with them next.

A COVID-19 outbreak on the construction site in June delayed the project by about two weeks. Because of this, the first two weeks of school for middle school students will be virtual, but the hope is to have them in the building on September 21 for in-person classes.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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