WILMINGTON -- The ground will be breaking next week and members of the School Board was so busy, they almost forgot to hold a commencement ceremony.
"We were so into this, and had so many things in a row, that we didn't even think to have one," said Phil Taylor, chair of the building committee. "It's great to have a ceremony to look at what we've accomplished. It's a very historic event for us."
The groundbreaking will take place on Monday, Nov. 26, at 8 a.m. at Deerfield Valley Elementary School.
All the students from the school, which is mostly children from Wilmington for now, will gather behind the school to be photographed with an excavator in the background.
Seth Boyd, chairman of the Twin Valley School Board, and Taylor will speak as part of the ceremony.
The process leading up to the groundbreaking began after the decision to consolidate was made. The state paid for 50 percent of the construction cost, once it was agreed that Whitingham elementary students would join Wilmington at Deerfield Valley Elementary.
Students from the two towns in K-5 will go to Deerfield Valley in Wilmington. Students in grades 6 through 12 will go to the site at Whitingham Middle School, which will become both the middle school and high school.
Taylor, who is also on the Wilmington School Board, told the Reformer that with the consolidation effort, the board will have the ability to focus on a K-12 curriculum.
"It's so much better for the kids. It means you have more time to focus, and the manpower to focus."
At Deerfield Valley Elementary School, construction will expand the building. It will include additional classrooms, as well as a room dedicated to art and another to music. There will be a full-time music teacher and full-time art teacher.
A new cafeteria will be added, too. Students have been eating in the gymnasium in the past. The gym will be used full-time in the future.
A sprinkler system will be added as part of the construction. Parking will be improved, too.
The elementary school should be completed by Sept. 11, 2013.
At Whitingham Middle School, construction will turn half of the old gym into an auditorium and the other half will be used as a fine arts center, with a television studio and music room with practice rooms. All the interior inside the school will be upgraded, along with science rooms.
That construction is scheduled to begin next April and is expected to take approximately 15 months.
D.E.W Construction Corporation won the bid to manage the construction for both schools. Taylor said working together with D.E.W has been a great way to manage value and stay involved in the process.
Now that construction will be taken care of, the school board has been taking surveys of parents and teachers. It wants to use that information to give a new focus to the schools.
"This was a big victory, but there's a greater victory to be had. And, that's to transform the school into something that's just outstanding."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org