By Robin Postell
LOWNDES CO., Ga. – On Monday, October 21, 2019, at 5 p.m., members of the Lowndes County Board of Education, staff members, Moody Air Force Base reps, media and other community members gathered at the site of Lowndes High School’s recently demolished A and B Wings.
The entrance everyone had become familiar with through decades of attendance and visitation is now reduced to acres of bulldozed clay sod.
The shocking absence of such an iconic Lowndes County facility heralds the beginning of a new one.
Lowndes High School Principal LeAnne McCall opened the ceremony with a brief welcome and then the LHS Air Force JROTC Cadets offered the Presentation of Colors.
Lowndes County school System Superintendent Wes Taylor gave the opening remarks and introduction.
“On behalf of the Lowndes County Board of Education, our 1400 employees and 10,800 students in the Lowndes County School System, I’d like to thank each one of you for taking time out of your busy day to be here,” Taylor said. “This is certainly a momentous occasion. Many of us have been looking forward to and waiting for this day for a long time.”
Taylor referred to the finished project’s rendering on the agenda, as well as the board out front at the construction entrance.
“This is certainly something we’re all going to be looking forward to see actually come out of the ground and will serve the needs of the Lowndes County School System as well as the Lowndes community for many, many, many years to come,” Taylor added. “…It will be state-of-the art and will have one aspect that we’ve been missing on our campus for many years and that’s a true fine arts facility – a thousand-seat auditorium that we think again will serve the needs of our students well for a long time to come.”
Taylor said the new facility will have “every aspect you can imagine” of technology. “At the same time I think our school board and everyone that’s been a part of this project thus far has been diligent in being frugal,” Taylor said. “We’ve not cut costs but at the same time we are trying to be responsible stewards of the taxpayer’s money.
Several Lowndes High faculty members were present, along with administrators and teachers, as well as district level staff. Representatives from Moody were recognized for their presence as being a “vital part of our community and school community,” Taylor added.
LCBOE members Brian Browning, Eddie Smith, Ronnie Weeks, Eric Johnson, Mike Davis, and Chairman Dave Clark were also present.
“This is like the movie Field of Dreams,” LCBOE Chairman Dave Clark said. “Everybody has dreamed about this five or six years. The Board has worked real hard on it for five years, put a lot of time and thought into how we were going to do it. How Mrs. McCall and the staff were going to handle it and we’re just glad to see it’s gotten this far. It took I don’t know how many years to build it but it took ’em two weeks to tear down what was here.”
It took I don’t know how many years to build it, but it took ’em two weeks to tear down what was here.Lowndes County BOE Chairman Dave Clark
The main thing Clark wanted to stress was “safety,” saying “everyone is going to have to be careful getting in and out around the construction site. All of it would be to no avail if somebody got hurt.”
Clark added that three years after completion the new Lowndes High School will be paid for in full. “People in Lowndes County should be extremely happy with that,” Clark said. “I appreciate everybody being here and I look forward to seeing the completion of this building. I won’t be on the board at that time but it will be good to look be and say we had a part of it. Thank you.”
“The next portion of this project will take about two years to complete,” said John McCall from McCall Architecture. “After that there will be further ongoing projects here on campus that will be the third phase that will happen after the new building is constructed. While it will take a little while to get there, there is a lot of work to be done and it is proceeding on quite rapidly now.”
“I want to thank the Lowndes County School System,” Lyndi Jones, President of JCI Contractors, said. “A lot of people that don’t do this a lot like we do, you don’t know how much work it takes on the part of the school system to get to a point that you’re ready to break ground so thank you to all of you because there’s so much leg work and hard work that goes into it. As you can see we’ve already done a lot of demolition, already changed the looks of things, and as you can see we’re right in the middle of your campus. We’re going to go ahead and ask for your patience and cooperation and we’re going to be needing a lot from the staff to coordinate all our noise-making activities with their testing. We know you’ve got to educate these young people and that’ll be our priority, too.”
“We’re going to try to be as isolated as we can be, be as inconspicuous and quiet as we build a 245,000 square foot three-story building right in the middle of your campus,” Jones finished.Lyndy Jones, President of JCI Contractors