“We received the certificate of occupancy just a week before school started, and there are still some areas that are being finished,” McCown told the crowd of more than 200 parents, students, school board members, faculty, staff and former employees of the old Sonoraville Elementary School that packed the school’s cafeteria Sunday for the dedication of the county’s newest school.
“Thanks you for all you’ve done and congratulations,” said Wanda Davis, chairman of the Gordon County Board of Education. “You have built a wonderful building of the strongest steel and the most beautiful brick, but the real school was constructed out of your love for your children.”
Davis said the community’s support for the school — and its support for the Education SPLOST that paid for it — is evidence that the Sonoraville area wanted the new elementary school, the third part of the campus that includes Sonoraville Middle School and Sonoraville High School.
The new school, which has cost $12.8 million to-date - almost $1 million less than the $13.7 million cost estimate - encompasses 94,000 square feet and includes 44 classrooms, music and art rooms, computer lab a media center and a gym, said Principal Kelly Bumgardner. There are 719 students attending classes.
Bumgardner thanked parents, students, faculty and staff for their “patience and perseverance” during the construction and moving-in period.
“The community has been very supportive,” Bumgardner said. She said close to 600 people attended the school’s first dance last week and the PTA already has 180 members.
Beverly Swancy, who was principal when the old Sonoraville Elementary School closed in 1991, recounted the history of the Sonoraville school, which first opened in 1922 with six classrooms. Over the years, a number of the county’s old one-room schools were consolidated into the Sonoraville school. The last high school class at the old school graduated in 1956.
“Through the years, this school was a source of pride to the community,” Swancy said. “Remember that history, but build on whatever was great.”
Gordon County School Board member Nan Barnett recalled that her father Olin Hayes was a sharecropper on the land where the new school stands.
“He, my mother and my siblings walked this land many times a day,” Barnett said. “I’m proud that Sonoraville Elementary, Sonoraville Middle and Sonoraville High will continue to nurture this community for many days to come.”