Jim Pearson Elementary School renovations underway, feature safety and technology | News

Safety was the main driving force behind Jim Pearson Elementary School’s proposed renovations but aesthetics and modernization will be added bonuses.

The building that houses pre-K through second grade currently requires students to transition often outside. This capital project will ensure students remain under one roof for the first time.

“That for me is the No. 1 thing,” Jim Pearson principal Angela Strickland said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to keep these children safe in the building.”

Thursday afternoon, Alexander City Schools superintendent Dr. Keith Lankford, board of education members, Mayor Tommy Spraggins, Strickland and assistant principal Danielle Coleman and Lathan Architects president Rick Lathan broke ground on the much-needed construction.

“I want to thank the mayor, the architect, our school board and everyone involved in making this happen,” Lankford said. “This is a big step and shows we’re willing to take the money we’ve saved and put it to good use. It’s created a lot of excitement and it will be a beautiful outcome.”

The groundbreaking took place in front of the school’s meaningful handprint American flag structure and Strickland wants the public to know it will not be removed.

“The plan is to relocate it to a more prominent spot at the entrance of the school,” she said. “It’s too important to our history. It will be in a spot you can still see it. It’s our pride and joy.”

The project is being funded from Alex City Schools monies on hand and the contractor bid was awarded to Amason and Associates. Crews have begun staging and installed a temporary fence and some additional boundaries. Construction will begin any day. Work will take about 10 to 12 months and done in phases so school can continue in the facility.

Elements of the proposal will include science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classrooms, a state-of-the-art media center, Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility to lunchrooms and the gymnasium, additional classrooms, aesthetic improvements and more.

“The biggest thing is connecting the buildings at about 12,000 square feet total and creating that prominent entrance,” Lankford said. “The whole aesthetics of the school will look completely different.”

Other features of the school will be collaborative classrooms, counselor suites, a new nurse’s station and innovative conference and meeting rooms.

“We want to start early on teaching kids how to do things virtually,” Strickland said. “It prepares them for the real world and teaches them how to collaborate with others.”

Construction crews are already in the works of cutting down trees, digging up old pipe and replacing it to update the school’s sewer system.

“This has been needed for a long time,” Strickland said.

What is currently the back of the building and entrance to the second-grade hallway will be the temporary main entrance while construction is underway. As a result, Jim Pearson faculty have partnered with First Baptist Church to beautify the area. The group is meeting this weekend to do some painting, landscaping and repair work to make the location more welcoming and appealing.

“It needs some beautification,” Strickland said. “The back of the school becomes the front for the year.”

The new front entrance will have an outdoors open awning before leading to the front doors. Hallways will be enclosed as well as the lunchroom so students don’t have to transition through the middle of the cafeteria. 

Offices for administration have been re-located and re-organized to suit the temporary layout. The library will act as a home base for counselors and some administrative personnel.

‘It’s all going to be an adjustment but we need to effectively communicate with everyone as we go,” Strickland said. “It will be new for everyone so we’re asking for patience, grace and mercy. It takes teamwork to make it work.”

Author: ” — www.alexcityoutlook.com