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Carroll dedicates renovated schools

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Bands played, choruses sang and ribbons were cut while students and staff cheered the completion of construction work at Carroll County high and intermediate schools on April 2.
Schools Superintendent Strader Blankenship told the students at both schools that wrapping up the additions and renovations for phase III construction caps off a decade-and-a-half of work in a countywide effort to improve facilities in Carroll.
“We are here to dedicate the renovations and new construction of Carroll County Intermediate School, soon to be Carroll County Middle School,” the superintendent said. “This project began — believe it or not — about 15 years ago.”
It took involvement from many officials and citizens in the county to plan for the construction and to carry it out, Blankenship stressed.

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Planning began with teachers, administrators, parents, the community and school board members. They created the vision for ways to improve the facilities, he said.
School board members and Carroll Board of Supervisors members figured out how to pay for the construction efforts.
Paying for the construction projects falls to the citizens. Blankenship lead the students, staff and guests in a round of applause to all those who participated.
“This is an important day because you should know that the citizens of Carroll County have made a tremendous investment in your education and education of future generations of Carroll County students,” the superintendent said. “This is an opportunity for us to thank the citizens and the leaders of Carroll County.
“This is a very special day for Carroll County Public Schools and we want everyone to be a part of the celebration,” Blankenship said. “I want to thank everyone for their efforts to make this project a reality  — it takes a lot of people to make a project like this come to fruition.”
School Board Chairman Brian Spencer said it’s a great day to come together as a community to celebrate the completion of the phase III construction projects.
“The foundation of our county is in the education of its youth,” the chairman said. “This has been understood by the citizens of our county for over a century.
“From farmland being donated to build the first St. Paul schoolhouse in Cana, to over $3,000 being raised by the community to build Woodlawn High School, Carroll County citizens have always risen to the challenge to meet the needs for educating children.
“These investments have been made because of an understanding that our future lies in well-educated children,” Spencer said. “A former governor stated that ‘no other investment yields as great a return as the investment in education. An education workforce is the foundation of every community and the future of every economy.’”
With that, Spencer thanked participating school boards, county supervisors and other officials for their commitment to a strong future for Carroll.
Presidents of the Student Council Associations at both schools joined the principals to cut ribbons. At the intermediate school, Jade Snow and Principal Marc Quesenberry did the honors at the entrance to the new three-story classroom wing to be used by sixth graders. At the high school, Ashton Huff and Principal Chuck Thompson cut the ribbon in the gym in front of the student gathering.
After the dedication in the afternoon, students from St. Paul School toured the entire intermediate school, which will become the middle school by the time they attend classes there.
They saw the two computer labs on the top floor and the other 15 classrooms in the new wing.
Sixth graders will be transitioned into the larger middle school by mainly using the new wing, Quesenberry told The Gazette. That should make the move easier to adapt to.
“I’m hoping it will bring the county closer together,” the principal said. “Hopefully, our students will become Cavaliers a lot quicker.”
Carroll County High School had been the only one that Thompson had heard of in his career with a 10th through 12th grade configuration. The completion of the construction and renovations will bring CCHS into line with the 9th through 12th grades at most high schools.
“We’re going to have 300 more kids here at the high school,” Thompson said. “We offer the ninth graders courses here anyway  — we’ll just eliminate traveling from school to school.”
About 17 teachers will also transfer over from the intermediate school to staff the high school.
While there are some concerns about having enough space for the four grade levels, Thompson said the high school can work through them.