First day of school marks day of history
https://unionrecorder.com/local/x2064742312/History-making-day August 7, 2010 History-making day First day of school marks day of history Vaishali Patel The Union-Recorder MILLEDGEVILLE — As Baldwin County community members and Georgia Military College faculty, administrators, alumni, parents and students gathered at Grant Parade Friday morning, hundreds of locals witnessed history in the making on the GMC campus during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new prep school, W.J. “Bill” Usery Hall.
A special formation at 9 a.m. kicked off the ceremony along with a welcoming by GMC Prep School Principal Col. John Thornton.
“As I stand here before you … we’re in awe of this structure,” Thornton said during his speech. “We’re very thankful to what went into this building and to all those that made it possible for this dream.”
GMC President Maj. Gen. Peter Boylan also made remarks before introducing the crowd to former United States Labor Secretary and GMC alumnus W.J. Usery Jr. himself.
“I’m honored … and I owe a lot to GMC. [GMC students will] enter as kids and march out as young adults,” the building namesake said. “Duty, honor and country served me well. I left here 70 years ago, and what’s really great is the teaching that goes on here. My life has been enhanced in so many ways. I don’t think there’s a finer place.”
Since construction began on campus grounds on the corner of Greene and Elbert streets in February 2009, faculty, staff and 500 students’ wait finally came to an end as they walked the halls and adjusted to the three-story building’s modern features during the first day of school Friday.
“It’s gorgeous and it’s a lot more modern,” said 10th-grader Marissa Langston of her new school roof. “It has more crisp looking colors. It’s just a happier place.”
GMC degree processor Sally Price roamed the halls and classrooms after the ribbon cutting to get up close and personal with the prep schools amenities.
“I love it. This is beyond anything I ever imagined,” Price said enthusiastically.
Grady Pennington attended GMC’s junior college, taking away respect for the campus and lifetime friendships.
“The alumni, put together, made GMC what it is today,” he said while admiring one of many display cases filled with Usery’s memorabilia and photographs of GMC alumni.
Accent walls throughout the 70,111 square-foot state-of-the-art facility, housing grades 6 through 12 under the same roof for the first time, lead to 560 lockers and 36 classrooms equipped with active expression boards, including three science labs, two computer labs, two music rooms, a formal conference room, health services and 18 faculty, staff, and Army JROTC offices.
“This is the first day of an exciting year … in so many ways historically while still maintaining the tradition that has survived the test of time,” Thornton said. “We’re under the same roof for the first time, we have brand new uniforms, a new bell system and we welcomed a few new faculty members.”
High School Battalion Commander Sean Tighe said he is blessed to have the opportunity to attend even one year at Usery Hall, which joins Miller Hall as the largest education buildings in the GMC complex.
“I’m excited to start school this year in this beautiful building. When [administrators and teachers] said, ‘state-of-the-art,’ they weren’t lying,” the 12th-grader said. “Everything is brand new and everything we would ever need is right here. The building is designed to last a century, and it’s great to be part of the first graduating class.”
SFC Van Dexter Rutledge with the JROTC Department said the school’s new technology, integrated with the new curriculum, will facilitate students in a quality learning environment.
“After 12 years of being in the old building and old trailers, coming into this new building on this auspicious day is wonderful,” he said while students were in their 30-minute first period. “I cannot think of a better school to be in because what we do here makes a difference. I believe in what we do and students continue to bring back wonderful success stories.”
As middle school students and 246 high schoolers gear up for their second day of class at 7:40 a.m. Monday, parents will have the chance to meet and greet teachers and tour the new building during an open house slated at 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16.
“I’m really excited to start school here. The teachers are nice and I hear the computer labs are nice,” sixth-grader Mya Milner said before heading to her second period class. “I like the new uniform colors, and the clocks in the halls make it easy. It’s a lot more organized.”
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