Hundreds gather to celebrate opening of new K-12 Jones County School
The entrance for the new Jones Senior High School portion. Photo by Catherine Hardee / Neuse News
Despite rumbles of thunder and pouring rain, the mood inside the new “gymnatorium” was optimistic as hundreds gathered for the ribbon-cutting of a new Jones County school.
The celebration of the state-of-the-art school building that will house Jones Senior High School and Trenton Elementary School brought dignitaries and elected officials from Jones and surrounding counties — and even from the state capital.
Gov. Roy Cooper, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) and Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) were all at the event.
On his third trip to Jones County since Hurricane Florence, Cooper said he was glad to be visiting the area for a celebration.
“We know there are people who are still struggling, but being here in this school is an amazing thing. It is a sign of progress and a sign of Jones County’s determination and resilience,” Cooper said.
For Jones County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Bracy, the opening of the new school represented the culmination of years of hard work by all the teachers and staff of the school system.
Despite no new schools being built in Jones County in more than 50 years, Bracy said Jones County Schools had pushed for academic excellence, with Jones Senior High School having the highest graduation rate in the state.
“It’s a true testament of all of us pulling together, and focusing on kids, because that’s what it’s all about,” Bracy said. “We were able to get the academic performance to a really positive, so now we’ve got the building to match that, so we’re really excited.”
Jones County Board of Commissioners Vice-Chair Frank Emory said the new building has everyone looking forward to the new school year.
“There’s no telling the possibilities that are going to arise from this,” he said. “The teachers are excited, everybody’s energized and everybody’s working together as a team. All the department heads are talking, so we can see a lot of things change that in the past may have been stalemated.”
Following remarks from state and local leaders, Cooper and other elected officials went on a student-led tour, with guides from the new Energy-wise club to show off the array of innovative features that will make the school consume less energy.
The one area not featured on the tour was the roof with its solar panels, due to the driving rain.
The weather added to the levity of the occasion, though, as several speakers noted the roof of the new school was proving to be watertight, much to the relief of those responsible for the construction.