Speeches, praise, applause, and the ceremonial turning of dirt were the ingredients for a successful groundbreaking program on October 3 to celebrate the start of construction on the new W.P. Grier Middle School campus.
Despite the warm October afternoon, more than 100 people gathered at the construction site on Garrison Boulevard in Gastonia for the occasion. School representatives, elected officials, community leaders, and others were on hand to see the formal breaking of ground for the new school building that will be ready in 2025.
Dr. Steve Laws, interim superintendent, welcomed the crowd to the ceremony and shared a story about growing up in a nearby neighborhood and attending Grier when it was a school for grades 1-9.
The program featured remarks by Jeff Ramsey, chairman of the Gaston County Board of Education and Walker Reid, mayor of Gastonia.
Student council president and vice president Adrianna Torrance and Halo Hailey-Giles also shared remarks.
“When you look at the renderings and floor plans for this new school, you get a glimpse of what is to come for this community – it is going to be incredible to have a brand new school right here in a very busy and growing area of Gastonia. Building a new school here is a step in the right direction toward providing better school facilities for our entire community.” – Chairman Jeff Ramsey, Gaston County Board of Education
“Imagine for a moment what this part of Gastonia is going to be like when this new school is complete. We are going to have a modern school campus right next door to The Schiele Museum. Today, we want to pledge our support for an even stronger partnership between Grier and the museum, and with the public library just across the street, we envision this area being a model for collaborative learning and neighborhood pride.” – Walker Reid, Mayor of Gastonia
The new W.P. Grier Middle School will be located on the same 25 acres of land along East Garrison Boulevard in Gastonia where the existing school sits.
Construction will happen in two phases – the 155,000 square-foot school will be built first on land that was used previously for the football field and then the old building will be demolished to make space for a new sports complex.
Once the school opens in 2025, it will take another year to build the football, softball, and baseball fields.
By the numbers: The cost to build the new Grier campus is estimated at $50-$60 million, a price that is higher than previous middle school construction projects because of inflation.
School bonds, which were approved by voters in May 2018, will be used to pay for the new school.
Building on the existing campus saves taxpayer funds because no land had to be purchased. Beam Construction Company is building the new school, and LS3P Associates is the architect.
Beam Construction also built the new Belmont Middle School and the new Pleasant Ridge Elementary School in Gastonia.
The school is named for W.P. Grier, who was superintendent of the Gastonia City Schools for 20 years (1921-1941). Grier opened in 1956 and originally served as a school for grades 1-9; it became a junior high school when the elementary grades were moved to Sherwood Elementary School when it opened in 1969.
In the mid-1980s, a building with a gymnasium, office space, and music classrooms was added to the front of the school.
Grier became a middle school for grades 6-8 in 1997, and it serves 600 students.
Go deeper: Click here to read the full article.