Photo: A drone photo view of the new Lewisburg Middle School, set to welcome students for the first time on Thursday, Aug. 5 (Photo credit: Jody McRee)
The shine is still fresh and new and will be sparkling for its students when the new Lewisburg Middle School receives its first youngsters on the first day of classes Thursday, Aug. 5.
Tuesday, teachers and staff took a moment from their preparations to celebrate with others on hand a ribbon cutting event held Tuesday, Aug. 3 on the campus, which is located on Highway 305 south of the Coldwater River. Officials point out it is past the 100-year flood plain for the river, which has had flooding issues in the past.
The new building, about 122,000 square feet in size on a 77-acre site, while separated from the other Lewisburg campuses on Craft Road, is actually situated near the center of the Lewisburg attendance zone, said DeSoto County Schools Supt. Cory Uselton.
Estimates placed the price tag for the new Lewisburg Middle School at about $21.7 million and it took 20 months to construct, according to Physical Plant Director Jerry White. The cost of the new middle school was covered through a financing mechanism called Certificates of Participation, money the district had available to pay for the project without raising taxes.
Principal Brad Meadows said his teachers and staff have been working hard in anticipation of the first day of classes on Thursday.
“The past couple of weeks has involved a team effort to get this building ready,” Meadows said. “The plant maintenance department at Central Services, our faculty and staff, our principals, it’s been everybody coming together to make sure we’re ready on Thursday.”
According to architect Allen and Hoshall’s pre-bid information, the school will house classrooms, administrative offices, a kitchen/cafeteria, library, band hall/choir rooms and a gymnasium.
About 1,000 students will be attending classes at the new school.
“We’re going to have a total of roughly 80 staff members here,” said Meadows. “The school building is pretty much built the same way as the old building. Our cafeteria is bigger, our library is bigger to accommodate our growing size. The layout is pretty much the same.”
The new school, likely the first new school building in the state’s largest public school district since Lake Cormorant High School was constructed in 2010, was first announced to be happening in August 2019, on approval from the state Department of Education.
“This has been years in the making,” Uselton said. “The Lewisburg community continues to grow and with that growth we have to continue to look forward to making sure we have enough room in our schools for the entire Lewisburg community.”
It is also happening because of continued traffic issues around the Lewisburg cluster of campuses with the middle school population now being moved. Work is being done to add lanes for the expected school traffic entering and leaving the new campus. White said the district is in the process of having state Highway 305 widened to include a turning lane, a project that should be completed this month.
However, the former building is not vacant. The old building now becomes a new school, Lewisburg Intermediate School for grades four and five. Lewisburg Primary School will now house kindergarten and first grade. Lewisburg Elementary School will house second and third grade. Lewisburg High School remains a grade 9-12 facility.
Meadows and Lewisburg Middle School have been recognized as a top-performing school in Mississippi the past four years.
“All of us are extremely excited for this day to finally be here and we are excited about this new chapter, and we can’t wait to see what this school year holds,” Meadows exclaimed.
During Thursday’s ribbon cutting ceremony, Uselton credited Meadows and his staff for their hard work.
“You are one of the main reasons why this school is here today, right here in the center of the Lewisburg school zone,” Uselton said. “We needed to build it because people keep coming. The reason they keep coming here is because of the students we see and all of the success in all of the Lewisburg schools.”
Now, the learning begins at all of DeSoto County Schools, including Lewisburg Middle School, come Thursday morning, Aug. 5.
The address of the new Lewisburg Middle School is 2605 Highway 305 S., Hernando, MS 38632.