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Looking through the new elementary school

Posted on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

“Every child should have the opportunity to go to school in a building like this,” said Curtis Shipe head of the new Colonial Beach Elementary School (CBES) construction project for Southwood Building Systems.

On the day of the official media tour for the school, Shipe spent some time discussing the various features of the school building. From wide open hallways, to bright airy rooms with plenty of natural light, to the gorgeous gym that is slightly reminiscent of the former Crackerbox every feature is meant to make learning easier for the students.

Each classroom features LED lights with two different zones of lighting. Teachers can dim, or raise, lights as needed in the areas of the classrooms. The learning wall in each room holds a projector and smart board instead of the chalkboard of former years.

Pre-kindergarten to 7th grade is hosted in the building with 19 homerooms, art, music, and areas for Title 1 and Title 2 teachers to work together with their students.

In particular, Coates was happy about the reading teachers being in one area, “Things like having a spot where all of our reading teachers have offices together can make a big difference. Before, they were spread out in a handful of different buildings.”

For years the students of CBES have been spread out, most recently in modular units and sharing classroom space in the high school. Prior to that the children were outside of town at Oak Grove Baptist Church, and before that scattered amongst trailers and building on the former Douglas Street campus.

The push for the new school began in 2012 following the large brick building, fondly known as the “Old High School” being closed to students. In the late summer and early fall of 2011 an earthquake, Tropical Storm Lee, and massive rain and flooding damaged the building.

In October of that year town building official Dexter Monroe declared the building unsafe for students. It was used until January of 2014 when the building was severely damaged by arson.

At that point students moved to the OGBC and the need for a new school became apparent. Discussions began in earnest with then Mayor Mike Ham and the seated council.

Read more of this story in the August 9 issue of the Westmoreland News.