Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 11, 2014

Oakvale School: Long-awaited moving day nears

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — The long wait for a new school is almost over for youngsters and parents in the greater Oakvale community. A dedication ceremony and “move in” day will be held Monday, April 21, at 1:30 p.m. for students and staff of the new Oakvale School.

Finishing touches ranging from installing pencil sharpeners to wall clocks are now being completed at the new school. The dedication ceremony also will mark the official moving day for students and teachers, who will occupy their new classrooms at that time, according to Kellen Sarles, a public information specialist for the Mercer County Board of Education.

When the project was first conceived several years ago, the decision was made to retain the school’s 1960 gymnasium and classrooms behind it, but to raze the remainder of the archaic structure to make way for a new 26,500-square-foot addition. The new construction sits about 60 feet back from the Goodwin’s Chapel Road, and allows for parent and bus drop-off loops. Unlike the old school, the new building also is compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and has a fire suppression system.

The project was funded largely through a $5 million Needs Grant from the West Virginia School Building Authority. The construction took two years to complete.

During the construction period, the K-5 school has continued to operate with classes occupying the old classrooms below and behind the gymnasium.

The school’s cooks also have a new kitchen now. A portable unit that was serving the school during the construction was removed in February, according to Oakvale Principal LaCosta Hodges. As a result, students will have a new dining area as well.

The new portion of the school also houses eight full-size classrooms, four special-use classrooms, an office suite with conference rooms, a media center, a cafeteria/kitchen, and support spaces including restrooms.

Classrooms also were designed, sized, equipped and wired for 21st century learners.

“Oh, I love it. It’s beautiful,” Hodges said last week of the new additions. “Our kids are so blessed. They won’t know what to do. They’ll be so excited.”

We too are excited about this long-awaited opening and dedication ceremony for the new Oakvale School. The completion of this important project is a win-win for students, staff and parents in the greater Oakvale community. We congratulate all on their new school.