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Unveiling of remodeled MHS attracts a crowd
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A crowd of roughly 150 people gathers Monday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the newly remodeled Martinsville High School. The $9.3-million project was funded by federal Qualified School Construction Bonds. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin staff writer

Martinsville City Schools officially dedicated the $9.3-million renovation at Martinsville High School at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday attended by close to 150 people.

City School Board Chairman Robert Williams told the history of the project and thanked the people who helped make it happen, including city council for funding $9.3 million in federal Qualified School Construction Bonds for the project, and representatives of RRMM Architects in Roanoke and Blair Construction Co. in Gretna.

“This renovation will enhance the educational experience for current students and for a generation to come ... ,” Williams said.

“This has truly been a labor of love,” said city Schools Superintendent Pam Heath. She also thanked numerous people involved in the project, as well as students for their patience during construction.

This is “a truly wonderful 21st century” learning facility for the students, she said.

Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins said, “I’m really blown away” by the high school facilities now, which she believes will help the local economy.

She said the city has never scrimped on educational facilities.

City Councilman Danny Turner, former mayor L.D. Oakes and wife Retha Oakes presented an aerial photograph of the renovated school that Turner took.

Guided tours followed the 4 p.m. ribbon-cutting.

Tommy Slaughter, vice chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors, said the renovation “is very nice. I’m real impressed at what they’ve done.”

A parent, Stephanie Mills, said, “the school is beautiful. ... I miss the old commons area, but for modern times, it’s beautiful.” She also said the science labs are high-tech.

Her daughter, Kionna Faith Mills, who is in ninth grade at MHS, said the school’s cafeteria “looks like a college cafeteria.”

Allyson Rothrock, president of the Harvest Foundation, said of the renovation: “It’s the setting for the future of learning,” with spaces for such things as learning in teams to problem solve and think critically. “It’s a wonderful addition to this community,” she said.

Interim Police Chief Eddie Cassady said T.J. Slaughter, the school division’s school safety coordinator, worked with the police department concerning security aspects of the MHS renovation. “It’s like we never stopped working together,” Cassady said. He called the project “very good.”

“It’s awesome ... very updated,” said Tammie Grady, who graduated from MHS in 1992.

City Councilman Danny Turner said of the renovation: “Good job, money well spent. ... You had to bring this school up to par.”

MHS senior T’Keyah Younger said, “Our school looks more up to date. For future generations to come, I think they’ll appreciate it.”

According to Travis Clemons, the school system’s executive director of administrative services, and Brian Nichols, project manager for Blair Construction, the renovation included reroofing the facility; redoing a lot of the infrastructure such as air handling systems; security improvements; reconfiguring space to allow for construction of seven science labs; about 6,000 square feet of new administrative space; remodeled space for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and vocational classes; a modernized cafeteria; and enclosing some walkways, among other improvements.

According to an announcement from the school division, it also includes a TV studio for producing student-run Mavahi news, a simulation hospital room for teaching health occupations, new technology and wireless Internet throughout the building. It also mentioned the “campus-like commons and dining area, with charging stations for students’ portable devices.”

According to a history of the project given by Williams, then-Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner suggested in 2008 or 2009 that the school division look at the needs of Martinsville High School. The school division already had renovated Martinsville Middle, Patrick Henry Elementary and Albert Harris Elementary schools.

In September 2009, city council and the city school board toured MHS to determine needed renovations. In October 2009, the school board established the 20/20 High School Building Planning Committee. Members were Jay Russell, Sammy Redd, Tom Fitzgibbons, Sharon Pace, Mark Stroud, Mark Roberson, Bill Manning, Leon Towarnicki, Clarence Monday, Travis Clemons, Jerry Epling and Kizner.

In November 2010, a QSCB application for $15 million was signed by the city manager and superintendent (based on Spectrum Design’s $15 million project proposal)

In March 2011, the school division was notified of $10.5 million QSCB funding opportunity. In July 2011, RRMM Architects presented proposed design/cost options at a school board meeting, and the school board voted to ask city council to authorize a $10.5 million project.

In December 2011, city council approved funding $9.3 million, according to previous Bulletin reports. That will be paid with city meals tax revenues without using general fund money, Mayor Kim Adkins said at the time. The project later was revised to fit within that budget.


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