Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 22, 2014

Two years in the making: Excitement surrounds Oakvale School opening

OAKVALE — School officials, parents and students gathered today for the dedication of the new Oakvale Elementary School.

The official move-in day and ceremony were held Monday afternoon as people toured through the new school in awe of all the wonderful resources the new building holds.

Oakvale Principal LaCosta Hodges said, “We are so excited and full of emotion today. This school was needed so badly and it’s just a wonderful thing for the community. The school was so outdated, and I know the kids are so excited to be in their new classrooms tomorrow.”

The new construction includes the school’s 1960 gymnasium and classrooms behind it, but sits about 60 feet back from 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.

Mercer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah S. Akers said, “ the school was a long time coming. The school is specifically designed for young children and we are so proud of it.”

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

“The kids have really used it as a learning experience, asking questions about every phase of the project and really expressing an interest in what was going on,” Swope Construction Superintendent Ed Burge said.

 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.

“This is a glorious day to be in Mercer County and a wonderful example of how old and new can come together and be something great. The school might be small but it’s going to have a large impact on the county, state and students,” U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. said.

— Contact Anne Elgin at

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