Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 7, 2014

Finishing touches going into Oakvale School

OAKVALE — Finishing touches such as installing pencil sharpeners and wall clocks are all that is needed to get a new Mercer County elementary school ready for its students.

The much-anticipated dedication of Oakvale School has been set for Monday, April 21 at 1:30 p.m., said Public Information Specialist Kellan Sarles. The day will likely be “move in” day as well — the day students and teachers occupy their new classrooms for the first time, she stated.

Construction workers  are now doing the school’s finishing touches.

“Actually, we finished the cabinets and fixtures, and they’re doing final touches now — clocks, fans, even pencil sharpeners,” said Principal LaCosta Hodges. “We’re doing very small details. They’re starting to clean (Saturday) and they’re starting to wax the floor, so that’s how close they are.”  

Students have been using classrooms in other parts of the school that were left standing after major renovations, but soon they will be seeing their new rooms.

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

The teachers are now learning how to use the new technology in their new classrooms.

“We’re very excited. They’re going to have state of the art technology, and they’re in the process of learning to use the new smart boards,” Hodges said. “I think these might be the latest models of smart technology.”

The school’s cooks have a new kitchen now; a portable unit that was serving the school during construction was removed in February, Hodges stated. Students will have a dining area.

 For students, guests and members of the community of Oakvale, the dedication will provide an opportunity to walk through the building and discover how elements of the old school have been woven into the design of the new, Sarles said.

The new portion houses eight full-size classrooms, four special-use classrooms, an office suite with conference rooms, media center, cafeteria/kitchen, and support spaces including restrooms. Classrooms were designed, sized, equipped, and wired for 21st century learners, Sarles stated.

When the project was conceived, the decision was made to retain the school’s 1960 gymnasium and classrooms behind it but to raze the remainder of the building to make way for a 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, Sarles said. Unlike the old school, the new building is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and has a fire suppression system.

The project, funded largely through a $5 million Needs Grant from the W.Va. School Building Authority, has required two years to complete, Sarles said. During that time, the K-5 school has continued to operate, with classes occupying the old classrooms below and behind the gymnasium.

More than 200 guests are expected for the dedication on April 21 including representatives of the W.Va. School Building Authority, the W.Va. Board of Education, the W.Va. Legislature and the town of Oakvale.

Invitations have also been sent to community leaders from across the county as well as to Swope Construction and the many subcontractors who have worked on the project.

Guests will be directed to park at Faith Baptist Church and use shuttle buses to and from the school.  

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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